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Campaign rhetoric does not equal legislative achievement

Melvin B. Miller
Campaign rhetoric does not equal legislative achievement
“The Democrats now understand that South Carolina has some real clout!”

An informed and active electorate is a fundamental element of a sound democratic political system. It is important that voters understand even complex issues and base their support on the prospective results. For some reason, analysts underestimate the impact of the personal charisma of a political candidate. The politician’s likability could compromise the voter’s assurance that the candidate will be able to achieve the promises made in the political campaign. The personality factor has been significant since ancient times.

Demosthenes was an historic Athenian statesman. While he lived from 384-322 B.C., he is remembered today because of his oratorical skills. As the saying goes, he could talk a cat off a fish wagon. For years he encouraged Athenians to oppose Philip of Macedon, and he later mobilized forces against Philip’s son, Alexander the Great. The power of Demosthenes’ presence and oratory was sufficient to inspire Athenians to take up arms and risk their lives in battle.

Today’s challenges are not so immediately life-threatening, but the retention of Trump in the White House can be said to have existential consequences. Nonetheless, the Democratic Party’s process for selecting the candidate for president seems to focus more on personal preferences and debating skills rather than assurances of ability to enact changes to implement the candidate’s policies.

The constitutional qualifications for U.S. president are limited. A candidate must be born in the United States, be a U.S. resident for 14 years and be 35 years of age or older. While those requirements are easy to satisfy, the possession of a resume that shows professional experiences that are useful for managing the nation is more difficult to acquire. Nevertheless, great presidents have come from various backgrounds.

With a new president, citizens often expect a revolutionary and exciting agenda. As the Democratic Party front-runner, Bernie Sanders has mobilized ecstatic crowds of supporters. Among his promises are a single-payer health plan and free college tuition. However, the cost of these innovations will more than likely limit congressional support. As a U.S. representative for 16 years and a senator since 2006, Sanders was an ardent supporter of programs to improve the lot of the working class, but his efforts did not generate substantial legislative changes. It is unlikely that the prospective power of the White House will improve the result.

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