Political Promise: An Oxymoron

“Military intelligence” sometimes is held out as THE oxymoron, the one that tickles our collective funny bone.  With an annual military budget approaching half a trillion dollars, how could we lose the Vietnam War to an arsenal of sticks and stones in the hands of unsophisticated rabble led by officers without diplomas from West Point or the Ivy League?  We’re tired of being angry, so we laugh.  What else can we do?

“Political promise”, however, is THE oxymoron that should scare every one of us to the core.  Is it possible for us to end up with the government we thought we elected, when we can vote only for candidates who legally can lie and make false promises?  How can we intelligently cast our votes, when the law tells us that we can’t rely on anything any candidate says?  How can we seek a remedy for being victimized by a political lie or false promise, when the law tells us there is no remedy?

We didn’t like Blacks not having the right to vote, so we amended the Constitution to change that.  We didn’t like women not having the right to vote, so we amended the Constitution to change that.  Why don’t we dislike the fact that “political promise” being an oxymoron takes all meaning away from everyone’s right to vote?  Why isn’t that anathema?  Why don’t we change that?  Why don’t we make that illegal?  Why don’t we give voters a remedy for being victimized by political lies and false promises?  Why do we ignore the teachings of our Founding Fathers?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”  [Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776]

Why do we throw our hands into the air and exclaim: What else can we do?

Stephen B. Benisch, August 3, 2009

Comment (1)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.