Policy Matters, A Buyer’s Guide to Political Purchasing
The 2014 mid-term elections are upon us. Soon we will choose the representatives who will lead us into an uncertain future. At stake are control of the U. S. Senate and the final two years of the Obama Presidency with the distinct possibility of impeachment proceedings against the President.
Unfortunately, due to unlimited money from anonymous sources, “opposition research”, manufactured debates and endless attack ads, our political leaders and their parties are little more than commercial products, bought and paid for by money that is anything but clean.
And we, the body politic are no longer informed voters. We are instead gullible consumers, deceived by false advertising and questionable practices; simple rubes, forced to shop at tacky flea markets for tainted political goods. We kick the tires of old, broken down lemons, that are sold “as is” by charlatans who see us coming from miles away. This sad state of affairs is made all the worse by decisions like Citizen’s United.
Our only salvation lies in becoming better political consumes. The question is how. What are our criteria for the purchase of political leadership? Precisely how do we choose for whom to vote?
Many depend solely on party affiliation, voting straight Republican, Democrat or Libertarian. This is true even of those voters officially registered as independents. Others rely on the candidate’s stated political philosophy; whether the candidate is honorable or not. Others focus on hype, image, religious/moral beliefs, campaign ads, endorsements or debate performance. At times, we vote for one side simply because we hate the other. And of course there is the old “who would you like to have a beer with” political philosophy.
As for Blackacre, we could care less about a candidate’s party. Their religion, skin color, ethnicity, gender and/or sexual preference are irrelevant. A politician talking nonsense is but a politician talking nonsense, regardless his hue, physical characteristics or sexual identity. Our voting criterion is simple.
It is the political leader’s public policy positions that drives our voting decision. What does the politician stands for, his guiding principles, end goals and agenda? What issues are important to him and what will he fight for? What are his beliefs and his desires for his constituents and the nation? In other words, “show me the policy. So in order to assist the Blacakcre community, we offer this voter’s guide to making sound political purchases.
Rule Number 1: Always Follow the Money. Talk, no matter how well delivered is inherently unreliable. Politicians will lie in a heartbeat. Rhetoric, speeches, platitudes and talking points regardless how well-reasoned have little saliency Depending on the speaker, the audience, the issue and the situation, words and phrases can mean all things and absolutely no thing.
What really matters, what always matters is the money, how it is allocated, and how it is spent. That which we value, our heart-felt desires, we nurture with money like we nurture our families with love. Those who appreciate the military make sure that it is well-funded. Those who favor the police ensure that they are well armed. Those who play golf insist on public golf courses.
That which we dislike; those things we do not value we deprive of financial resources. The argument that we cannot solve a problem by merely throwing money at it, is really a person’s way of saying that he/she does not support a particular policy. This explains why we spend considerably less on schools than we do on prisons.
Also consider the source of the money. From whom a politician seeks money is whose policy he will advance. As it was then, so it is now. He who pays the piper calls the tune.
Rule Number 2: Watch whom the candidate associates and who associates with the candidate. Whom a politician courts, the votes he covets, the endorsements he seeks, the people he calls friends and associates, those with whom he does business, the individuals he invites into his home and inner sanctum, those with whom he dines and parties are of vital importance. These are the people who shape not only the politician but his public policy positions as well.
During a discussion on the difficulties of raising minority males, an African-American mother said it best. “Show me your friends and I will show you your future.” Blackacre would slightly amend this admonition by advising “show me your sources of funding and I will show you your public policy.”
Rule Number 3: What the politician says or does when he thinks no one is noticing is his true public policy position. Can we ever forget Mitt Romney and his comments about the 47 percent? As to this rule, nothing more need be said.
Rule Number 4: The impact of a pubic policy position is infinitely more important than the rational used to support it. It bears repeating that talk is cheap and politicians are practiced at making the most horrible policy sound reasonable. What counts is the policy’s effect on the lives of people.
If a vote or policy position is contrary to our best interest then it matters little the pretty words used to justify it. Getting dumped by a loved one who uses the old canard, “it’s me not you” lessens the pain not one bit. At the end of the day, after all is said and done, whether personal or political, a heartbreak is still a heartbreak.
In conclusion policy matters. It is policy which determines whether we can vote or find a job. It is policy which drives the quality of our schools and the air we breathe. And it is policy which governs our economic, political, health care and legal systems. The least we can do is to become wise political shoppers by factoring policy considerations into our voting decisions.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum