Dr. Eileen Lynch
20. Political Parties in
Do candidates keep their campaign promises? Use the Brown and Oakley campaigns to explain your assessment.
It is a common truism that “you can’t trust a politician to keep his promises”. As a matter of fact, many people who willingly do without their right to vote for their representatives in government cite this as a major impediment in their decision to vote at all, since none of what was promised during the campaign will be actually realized.
I believe that it is very possible that the reason why candidates are often perceived to fail delivering on campaign promises has to do with the fact that often those promises are offered outside of the framework of government itself, and that those promises of change are often rhetorical in nature and impractical in real life. Who knows what kinds of compromises have to be reached for the government to function as it does on any given issue? It seems to me that many politicians often are co-opted out of their promises by institutional inertia, and are often foiled by special interests and party ideologues from each side of the aisle.
However, according to the video lesson, the political parties are considered (by way of surveys) to be fairly effective in holding elected officials true to their word and instill adherence to party platforms in the decisions of their candidates when it comes to acting for or against certain issues. Political parties can offer suggestions for political action by their elected candidates that are closer to platform promises than otherwise.
The video lesson offers us the example of the candidates for state representative for Terrell, Betty Brown (R) and the incumbent Keith Oakley (D). Mrs. Brown is a self-described amateur politician whose only interest in running for office is to secure a brighter future for her grandchildren and that brings behind her the juggernaut Republican Party against the confessed party-pooper Mr. Oakley, who actually has a personal vested interest in remaining in office, since the Democratic Party had finally involved themselves more intimately in his race. In the election, the people voted to keep Oakley over Brown, and Oakley expressed his concern that he had never before had been assailed by the full might of the Republican apparatus.
As part of his campaign promises, Oakley mentioned his willingness to pass some kind of tax relief legislation for property owners in his district, and to work on the creation of a state park in his district, since there is none. Apparently, as chairman of the House committee in public safety he is able to introduce such proposals.
However, once he was reelected he had only surmounted the first obstacle in his quest to fulfill his campaign promises. He still has to wage battle against the opposing party, and against the other incumbents who often seem eager to consider the voting process as an opportunity to jockey for position and for points in the next elections.