Let's be honest. It's an election year. People are grumpy. People are anxious. We're in the midst of uncertain (if not unfamiliar) times for our country. Folks are looking for someone to give them reassurance that everyone is going to be okay.
Unfortunately, that message isn't exactly coming across.
Recently we've had the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, hurt by a covert viral video that reveals he doesn't think much of the people who vote for Democratic Party candidates. (It also reveals that he's pretty savvy when it comes to TV, but that's another story entirely.) The video has become a sore spot for the GOP hopeful, and many folks on the other side of the political aisle have been high-fiving over their perceived good fortune.
Well, watch out for the Karma train, now arriving on Track 9.
Early this morning, the Associated Press released a story stating that almost 6 million Americans, most of whom are considered middle class, will be hit with a tax penalty under the Health Care Reform Act. That number is roughly 50% higher than the Congressional Budget Office's 2010 estimate that 4 million citizens would have to pay the tax in 2016, the first year the tax is fully in effect.
The news is being hailed by Republicans as proof that the President broke his promise to not raise taxes on the middle class, and that the reform will ultimately do more harm than good.
I'm not here to hash out health care reform again, as my family has benefited mightily from the pre-existing condition reform. I'm also not going to debate whether or not a presidential candidate speaking to a room full of supporters should be strung by his toes for playing to his base. Those are issues that could be (and have been) discussed ad nauseam without any hope of resolution, and we have the Patch archives to prove it.
What I'm more interested in, and it's really more of a question than an opinion, is do you - yes, you, the individual person reading this - really believe presidential promises anymore?
In other words, when Mitt or Barack stand up and say, "This is how I plan to lead America back to greatness!", do you really believe that they will execute that plan?
Basic knowledge of our government (or at the very least, a cursory knowledge of civic lesson cliches) tells me that the President is one part of a system, intended to check and balance authority and influence within our nation's power center. Thus, the President can't just declare that he'll lower taxes, or create more jobs, or give everyone unicorn food and rainbow pellets in order to make things better, and then go out and just do those things.
He has to work with Congress. Congress has to work with him. And then the Supreme Court has to be down with things too.
For some reason, it seems like people forget that in a presidential election year. We spend so much time focusing on the candidates for president that neglect the other positions of power. We fall in love with a personality that promises us the things we want to hear, and cast our vote as if in a vacuum. Then, we sit around amazed when, two years later, the president isn't able to deliver on those promises because the Congress he was given to work with wouldn't work with him.
See Obama, Barack over the last couple of years as an example.
For that reason alone, I'm not buying any of the presidential promisory notes. Not any of them. I'll read to see what their plans are, but I'm not basing my vote on the plan alone. Instead, I want to read and watch and listen to the two men vying for our most prestigious political post, and I want to see if I can get a feeling for which man won't sell out our country's best interests for their ideological gain. I want to see which man might be willing to erase the party line and focus on solutions that improve the lives of people. I want to see which one of these flawed but able candidates might not just be the man people hope they'll be, but be better.
I want a leader, not a politician. I'm not sure I'll get that. But I'll spend the next few weeks really considering Mitt and Barack's character as much as their promises. And in the end, I'll vote for the man I think will do his best to do what's best for the American people - especially if it means breaking rank with his party.
What about you?