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Contractually Enforceable Campaign Promises

If they promise you the world, make them give it to you.
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When a politician seeking public office promises something in return for your vote ("no new taxes" for example) then we, the voters, should have legal recourse for getting compensation in the event that those promises are not fulfilled.

Campaign promises are never actually written in the form of a contract but they are presented in such a way that there is little doubt about what is intended. They don't have the ephemerality of a verbal agreement - they are invariably recorded on tape or issued in press statements.

And there is that word "promise". I favour Merriam-Webster's definition 1b: "a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act."

If I give someone a written and signed statement that I will carry out some action in return for some consideration from them and they keep their end of the deal, I am legally obliged to carry out my end or I am "in breach of contract" (which I am led to believe is a very bad thing). Let's make that apply to everyone.

sirrobin, Jan 31 2001


       The one problem I can see with this is that, in many cases, the promises are so large that politicians may in many cases choose to pay whatever the penalty is for breaking it. But this would at least be a black mark on their records.
baf, Jan 31 2001

       If I accepted payment for goods I failed to deliver I would have to repay the money. In this case the payment would be the votes received. An elected official in breach of campaign contract would have to either (a) make good on the promise really fast or (b) lose the votes and thus the position.   

       This possibility would make the really big, obvious bullshit promises go away very quickly.
sirrobin, Jan 31 2001

       What if the president writes up his promise as actual legislature, but it fails to pass the senate? Is that his fault?   

       I like the idea of more consequences for our elected officials...maybe some way to evaluate general performance.
blahginger, Jan 31 2001

       can anyone remember the labour election 'promise cards' they were like a list of the top 10 international all-time great bullshits and they had little tick boxes for when they where in governmentand they had done those things   

       most stuff has done the opposite of what they said   

       maybe the punishment could be plain old traditional shame/embarassment eg since most politicians are not hugely attractive we could stimulate the sick-bag industry at the same time by parading them naked, tied to the back of a truck around the whole of their area of responsibility (bad luck for Dubya) maybe it could become some sort of end-of-office ceremony since all political promises fail in some way
chud, Apr 15 2001

       what i've learned is: it doesn't matter who gets eleceted, you get the same crap anyway, and nothing changes. government is like a big, lumbering elephant, moving at top speed (which isn't very fast). suffering from inertia, it is very difficult to make any changes in direction.   

       it would be nice if our elected leaders could be held accountable for their actions. after all, they are civil servants, and they work for us. if you let your employer down enough times, you would probably be let go. the same should be true with politicians.   

       <rant>as for what waugsqueke said about congress overriding a presidential action, in the canadian and similar governments, the party in power should always be able to pass a bill, as they have the majority of the seats in the house of commons. the passing of the bill throught the senate is almost always a formality. so if the prime minister promises, for example, to eliminate a particularly unpopular tax that the previous government implemented, and he fails to follow through on his promise, he should get the boot. amazingly enough, ours has managed to be re-elected twice...</rant>
mihali, Apr 15 2001

       So you vote for the guy promising no new taxes, 1001 tax cuts, cool health benefits, no new state debts, cuts to state spending;   

       In fact 90% of the population does.   

       Then, when he tries to weasel his way out, you sue.   

       Then, the ludicrous and unworkable promises are set to work. lo and behold! they are ludicrous and unworkable. Weird how that turned out. Country in deep shit, but not to worry, next elections are not far, and there ist that guy, promising this cool thing...
loonquawl, Mar 24 2009


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