My name is Patrick M McCormick and I have created this blog as a platform for my political views as well as those of select contributors.

I believe that American Politicians have lost sight of their goal: To uphold the Constitution and protect the rights of the people of the United States. They argue and bicker on the floor of their respective houses, positioning themselves for the next election, while they accomplish very little business for the citizens of this country.

Meanwhile our economy is sliding downward. Millions of our precious jobs have have been exported overseas. Our social safety net and other public services are being cut. Our middle class is rapidly disappearing and the numbers of citizens existing below the poverty line is increasing dramatically.

I plan to examine the causes of these terrible changes to our American way of life. Your comments will help us all arrive at some important conclusions.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Politics… is it a Game or a “Shell Game”?

Commentary by
Patrick McCormick

An important election is coming this November. How does the average American know where to cast their vote? Determining the answer to that question may be more difficult then figuring out which shell hides the proverbial pea.

People select “Their” candidate for many reasons; they like their looks, they like their position on certain issues, they may simply align themselves with the political party their candidate represents. Once a voter “Locks onto” a candidate, anything is possible. He, or she, will argue that candidate’s worth with friends and strangers alike. Perhaps they will actively campaign, take a sign with a catchy slogan out to a busy intersection and jump up and down for passing automobiles. They may even donate their hard-earned cash.

Here’s the rub; candidates choose their position on the issues carefully. None of them want to have the same agenda as the other candidates. It is important for them to offer a clear choice for the voters, you and me, US. So, they hire a group of consultants to create, and maintain, their “Public Image”. I suspect these consultants even help them determine whether or not to dye their hair, get a Botox treatment or a quick nip and tuck. Above all things, a candidate has to appeal the voters.

While the consultants in the back room are working on the image factor, which includes campaign promises for the voters, the candidate is out raising campaign funds. Most of the necessary cash comes from large corporate donors and other special interest groups. These organizations do not give something for nothing. They get support on issues relevant to their continued operation or objectives. This support comes in the form of votes. It takes a lot of money to run an effective campaign. A candidate has to make a lot of promises to their donors in order to raise what’s needed. Do those promises conflict with the promises made to the voters? It would be necessary to match the candidates voting record after he/she takes office with their campaign promises and then match the same record to the goals of the special interests. . Although this would seem to be very important, I suspect “Most voters never look”.

Look back at all of the elections you can remember. How may campaign promises were actually kept winners of those elections. I would be willing to bet you that the answer is a very low number.

President Bush promised physical austerity and smaller government. He invaded two countries and allowed the banks to sell millions of mortgages to unqualified individuals. His administration inherited a virtually debt free government from President Clinton and left us wallowing in trillions of dollars worth of debt.

President Obama promised to reduce our debt, give US a cleaner government, create jobs, stimulate renewable energy, work on environmental issues and provide fair health insurance for all. His batting average is a poor one.

Look at the Tea Party. They promise to Support Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, A Free Market, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as explained in the Federalist Papers. They believe the observance by the government of those core values is critical to the security and personal and economic liberties of all U.S. citizens.

What appears to lead and inspire participants involved in the American Tea Party Movement is the concept that "there exists an inherent benefit to our country when private property and prosperity are secured by natural law and the rights of the individual."

On the surface, the Tea Party looks promising. However, their candidates have to raise a lot of money, just like the other guys. They get their campaign cash the same way the other guys do. They make promises to the same organizations the other guys do. They can’t possibly keep any more of their promises than the other guys do. If Tea Party Candidates were truly out to reform our government processes, a great place to start would be to completely reveal their sources of campaign finances; make them totally transparent. I doubt that any Tea Party Candidate would do this.

I would have to say the same for the old guard Republicans or the Democrats. Most of them are promising “Transparency in government”. I say, “Lay it on the line and show US where your funding is coming from”. My common sense tells me, “Any politician that refuses to make their funding transparent is playing the “Shell Game” with US”.

Politics is much more complicated than the picture I have painted here. There are many more factors involved in the election process and the effectiveness of Political Office Holders than I have mentioned. Politics is a complicated game.

What I wanted to point out is that all candidates make campaign promises to the voters. All candidates have to raise campaign funds for which they make more promises to special interest groups. Once in office, the newly elected have obligations to both groups. Which of the promises are they most likely to keep; who knows. We could track that after the election if we knew how much money they raised and where it came from. Unfortunately, that is an impossible task because our office holders passed laws allowing the concealment of those facts from US. That means a voter cannot actually check on his, or her, candidate and determine if they were working to represent them or the special interest groups that funded their campaigns.

As I inferred in the beginning, “It’s a Shell Game”. All politicians make great campaign promises. In an actual Shell Game, your chances of selecting the shell that covers the pea are slim. Your chances of voting for a candidate that will keep all of their campaign promises are equally slim.

That’s politics folks, part of the game is to figure out the ending.

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