Thursday, January 24, 2008

The “speeches and debates” of the candidates

by: John Silveira
On January 22, on the CNN website, there was a poll asking: Have you listened to or watched any speeches or debates by the presidential candidates?

The choices were:


I voted. I checked “neither.”

Then I viewed the results. Here they were as of the moment I voted:

Percent # votes
Speeches 3% 536
Debates 14% 2374
Both 38% 6455
Neither 44% 7493
Total Votes: 16858

Those percentages will hold pretty constant even with thousands of more votes.

Why, you may ask, do I not bother to listen to the candidates’ debates nor their speeches?

Quite simply because what they say is more often than not meaningless. They say whatever they think they have to say to get elected. Often, what they say depends on who they are talking to. It often depends on what the polls say prospective voters want to hear. (It means these politicians are not standing on principles, they’re saying whatever they have to, to get elected.)

I remember a long-ago speech, before tobacco farmers by Al Gore in which he promised them his support. This contradicted anti-smoking speeches he made both before and after that speech, anti-smoking speeches he made to groups that were clearly against tobacco. Like most politicians, he was firmly in the camp of the wishy-washies.

I also recall that in 1980, friends urged me to vote for Reagan, instead of the Libertarian candidate, Ed Clark, because we had to get a liberal like Carter out and a conservative like Reagan in. I said I couldn’t vote for Reagan because he wasn’t a conservative, he was a big-government Republican. I based my opinion on what he did as governor of California and not on what he said in his campaign speeches. And, as it turned out, I was right.

After listening to these guys for years, I realize if there is any positive the correlation between what they say and what they do when they get into office it is more a matter of chance and coincidence than a matter of them keeping their promises.

They all promise smaller government, lower taxes, peace, etc. But, once in, those speeches and promises are forgotten.

As an aside, I thought it was laughable when Clinton ran for reelection, in 1996, and simply appropriated the Republican platform. Not that he intended to carry out any of the promises for smaller government, lower taxes, etc., that he ran on. It was just neat stuff to say. And, when he was reelected? All the promises were forgotten–by both the voters and the press.

I even asked liberal friends why they were voting for him when he was backing away from the liberal agenda. They, of course, didn’t answer and Bill, as I said, abandoned all the small-government rhetoric he’d gulled the swing voters with. I knew he’d do so. I imagine even his supporters knew his speeches were bullshit–lies–but they didn’t care.

However, if you really want to know where a candidate stands, and assuming he was previously in an elective office, look at his voting record in whatever legislative bodies he may have been in, look at his track record if he was a governor. What they’ve done in the past, they’re very likely to do in the future.

Only one of the candidates says what he means and means what he says, and that’s Ron Paul. His voting record in Congress is a reflection of his campaign speeches and what he says in the so-called “debates.” But I don’t listen to him, either, because I already know what he’ll do if elected. He’s not going to say anything in his speeches or the debates that he hasn’t said and done before. He’s the only one there I trust. He’s the only one up there not trying to snow you.

I’ll vote for him even if he doesn’t run.

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