Going by the rhetoric in common usage these days, we might conclude that if only the right person were elected this coming November, our problems would be solved. Gas prices and taxes would go down. Jobs would flow freely. The American Dream would be once again achievable in a way that it isn’t achievable today – depending on what side of the fence you’re on. Our trade deficit with China would become a surplus. The budget would be balanced. There might even be World Peace. Society will be more moral and more free, depending on what side of the fence you’re on. And if this in any way comes close to your beliefs, Loretta Graziano Breuning wants you to know that you’re lying to yourself. “Democracy is being told what you want to hear,” says she, adding that “if voters expect politicians to fulfill their dreams, they are asking to be lied to.”
The reality is that government cannot fulfill our dreams. And furthermore, when we are frustrated with life but we do not want to accept painful realities, we criticize politicians. If we dislike invasive airport security, we blame government. But if something happens we complain that the government doesn’t provide enough airport security. The result of our unwillingness or inability to accept painful truths, says Breuning, is that politicians tell us what we want to hear while they are running for office. This is how they ultimately win our “affection,” trust and votes. When they don’t deliver, we move on to the next election. As she sees it, “Hostile watchdogs are not good guides to public policy. They’re against everything except their pet panacea, and if that gets enacted, they’re against that too.” So that’s one viewpoint to consider.