Because we won’t let them. I’ll explain.
As I observe the campaigns by both Republican and Democrat candidates for office this November I am struck by the near total unwillingness of these people–even the ones I support– to be specific on their policies. It is truly maddening, but I must say that in some ways I understand the situation and the candidates are not entirely to blame. To find who is at fault in many cases we just need to look into the mirror.
I watched yesterday as Chris Wallace interviewed Carly Fiorina (R), a candidate to unseat the despicable Barbara Boxer (D) from the Senate. 5 different times he asked her what specifically she would cut in order to get California’s budget balanced. Each time she essentially dodged the question (quite artfully actually). I have seen another candidate I support, Meg Whitman (R candidate for Governor of California) handle this question the same way. What has happened to us when straight talking, deliberate, wildly successful business executives won’t answer such a question directly?
The answer lies with us. Because if Carly gave her true answer she would be trounced by Barbara Boxer. Why? Because the people in California do not want to hear it. They don’t want to hear that they can’t have their cake, eat it too, and have yet another piece. It is an indulgent state where the people have completely lost the connection between what they want, and what they can afford. So for Carly to answer “Well Chris, we plan to require police officers to work 30 years before they can retire rather than 20, to contribute to their health care plans just like the people they serve do, to fund their own retirements through 401k’s like the people they serve do (phased in). And Chris, we are going to have our students and their families actually pay for the education they receive in the California State University System, rather than have them pay 20% of the cost and have the taxpayers carry the rest (with a humane financial aid program available). And….”. Can you imagine such an answer? Probably most of you reading this blog would say “I love that answer”. But unfortunately we don’t make up the majority. And such answers are a one way ticket to a huge loss in the polls.
Such questions are being dodged by candidates all over America, Republican and Democrat. They don’t believe they can be as fortunate as Chris Christie, who somehow was able to win the governership of New Jersey by using straight talk. Most candidates don’t believe they could pull it off, and they are probably right. Thus, even Carly and Meg have to dodge and weave.
Now to be fair to the Republican candidates, most of them are at least talking about “cutting”, and in my opinion we can generally believe that once elected we will see very specifically what they are going to cut because they will actually do so, as Chris Christie has done. Candidates like Barbara Boxer are still talking about what they will “provide”, not what they will cut. She is asking the people: “What flavor cake would you like, what type of icing, what kind of ice cream, and how many prongs would you prefer on your fork?” Funding? Deficits, Taxes? Nothing but irritating details to people like Barbara Boxer.
As a people if we cannot restore the connection between what we ask our government to do for us and how it is funded (via taxes) we will surely break. Everything must be paid for and we need to watch the debits and the credits and keep them in balance. We must provide our candidates the freedom to tell us what they will invest in, what they will cut, and how specifically they will ensure our financial security. Not just what they’ll spend money on, and what they’ll do for us.