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It’s the day after the Iowa Caucus and start of the election cycle, so I thought I’d list all the campaign platitudes and cliches that have already become a sheer nuisance, beginning with, I will keep America safe.
Okay, national security is obviously a big issue in this campaign, and people want to know what we’re going to do to keep America safe. Fortunately, the candidates have a great message: “We will keep America safe.” Thank God! Marco Rubio plans to keep this country safe — as opposed to Rand Paul, whose campaign slogan is “I hope ISIS wins,” and Bernie Sanders, who’s gone out of his way to emphasize that he’s pro-Putin.
I hope the sarcasm is clear. The fact is, nobody is against national security, so saying over and over again “I will keep this country safe” amounts to nothing, because every other candidate says the same thing. You might as well say, “When I’m president, I will not be a Nazi.” Great, I didn’t know someone had other plans?
I will make lot of jobs.
Just like national security. Nobody is against employment.
Here’s an ad for my ads.
This is a very special sort of silly that I’ve mostly seen from Marco Rubio on Fox. (I’d include the ad, but I can’t find it online.) The ad essentially shows people watching Rubio campaign ads, dutifully nodding their heads. The ad tries to show normal people responding to Marco Rubio, even though no normal person has ever been so enamored of a campaign ad. In fact, the whole purpose of the ad must be to show voters how they ought to react to his ads. Perhaps if this ad doesn’t work out, they can shoot footage of people reacting positively to the ad showing people watching the ad and post it as an ad, so next time people react correctly.
Jesus endorsed me.
Obviously, Republicans love to talk about religion and faith in the primaries, because evangelicals vote a lot. However, there’s a fine line between discussion and pandering that is crossed … always. Take, for instance, this Rubio ad-cum-Sunday-School-lecture:
While it’s a little more believable when candidates like Santorum and Huckabee make their whole campaign about social issues, when Rubio and Cruz suddenly become expert theologians who’ve discovered a passage in the Bible endorsing ethanol subsidies, it starts to wear thin. Evangelicals see right through the pandering.
VETERANS! VETERANS! VETERANS!
If there’s any issue more transparently politically exploited than faith, it’s veterans. Of course everyone loves the military. Veterans deserve tremendous respect. But respect doesn’t necessarily mean pandering. In fact, pandering is somewhat disrespectful, since it assumes gullibility. When you habitually end every speech, “God Bless the Veterans!” you inherently stop meaning it. It’s like the prayer you say before dinner: You memorized the words, but it doesn’t mean much to you anymore. If it does, it’s probably because you’ve thought it through — not as a tune or rhyme, but as a diction that expresses actual thought.
This is something I’d like to see Americans work on in general. Instead of reciting platitudes about how great the troops are at every opportunity, take the time, occasionally, really to think about the importance of the armed forces. It will yield more respect because you passionately understand what you’re saying.
Perhaps this is just a libertarian thing, but I don’t believe the president is a leader. The Republican consensus seems to be that Americans want a “leader.” Jeb Bush loves to push this idea of leadership above all else:
It really comes down to when a modern president is supposed to lead. I’m a free-marketer, so I don’t want them leading the economy. I doubt most conservatives think their goal on social issues is to lead people’s social lives. Separation of powers means the president isn’t supposed to be a heavy-handed leader, but rather a manager.
Indeed, the president rarely leads, even as commander-in-chief. He doesn’t go to the front lines or give direct commands, so he isn’t a leader. He’s a manager. The job is to plan and make decisions, much like a CEO (indeed, the president is basically the CEO of the government). We don’t usually call CEOs leaders because they’re not people to whom individuals look up. A president as leader sounds to me like exactly what the Founders sought to avoid. If you believe that government is a social contract undertaken for security, then government is more of a security-provision service than a commanding entity. I pay UPS to provide my mail. I don’t typically call its CEO my leader. I pay the president to protect me. So why would I call him my leader? I pay him to protect me. He could be my leader if I worked for him as a government employee, though that doesn’t necessarily mean he does lead me, even if he has the power to do it. Even if you believe leadership is huge for a president, the platitudes are still dumb because leaders don’t typically brag about what great leaders they are.
Look, over there! He supports amnesty!
This has been yuuuge this cycle. Ted Cruz saying a vote for Marco Rubio is a vote for amnesty. Donald Trump saying … everything. Thankfully, this pure hyperbole was actually touched upon in the last debate.
It’s a fact: Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are not the only anti-amnesty candidates. Nobody has been much more consistent on this than the others. And the difference between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio is not 300 million Mexicans. This is pandering (or anti-leadership) to the core: Seeing immigration as a big issue and jumping on the bandwagon just because everyone else is.
These platitudes and tricks are important. They’re a major reason such incompetent people get elected. This is key to the split between Trump and the establishment, and both sides need to realize it’s a problem of laziness. Trump’s problem is that he gives no specifics and just tells people what they want to hear. His supporters need to realize this won’t fix anything. The establishment needs to realize they do the exactly same thing — just slightly more eloquently.
Thank you very much. Jesus endorsed this post because it keeps America safe. Remember, it’s a matter of public record whether you agree with this work of leadership or not, and if not, you support amnesty. God bless the troops!Published in