Monday, June 13, 2016

Promises Not Really Broken

When do politicians actually keep their word?
Four years ago, Jonathan Bernstein of the Washington Monthly wrote that people who believed Mitt Romney would move left if he got elected were ignoring history. Once in office, presidents almost always try to carry out their pre-election agendas. When they’re unable to keep those promises, it’s usually because of congressional opposition—not because they’ve discarded campaign rhetoric to pursue other goals.

As Bernstein notes, political-science research backs this up: Jeff Fishel of American University wrote a book called Presidents and Promises in which he found that, from Kennedy to Reagan, presidents almost always try to keep their campaign commitments. Gerald Pomper of Rutgers tracked party platforms from 1944-1976 and found that two-thirds of the winning candidate’s policy pledges were at least partly fulfilled after four years. Michael Krukones of Bellarmine College wrote a book, Promises and Performance, arguing that presidents from Wilson to Carter kept about three-quarters of their campaign promises.
Well, at least they tried...

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