Thursday, 28 April 2016

"Unrealistic" policies and defeatism

An aspect of the 2016 presidential election in the United States that has disappointed me is how proposals by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, which if implemented would massively change systems such as education and healthcare, have been dismissed and mocked as "unrealistic" and "never going to happen". It's disappointing because I want to know this: Where this defeatism in the United States come from?

Years ago, US presidents regardless of their political affiliation would make grand promises as to how they would improve life for everyday Americans. They would aim high and even if they weren't able to achieve everything, they would at least have achieved something. Even Herbert Hoover, who was defeated in a landslide by FDR in 1932 for being a highly ineffective president, once said, "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage". He didn't campaign on, "Every American having a roof over their heads and a food on their plates? Completely unrealistic!". Voters would never have granted him a first term, let alone a chance for a second.

Whether or not you agree with Sanders' policies isn't my point; rather, it's that his proposed sweeping changes are viewed as pipe dreams and that many people seem to want to accept no change to a system that they supposedly think is severely broken and in need of fixing. People complain about the system and when someone different comes along and offers different solutions, they admit defeat by dismissing that person and voting for the very system they claim to despise. If that attitude had been more prevalent years ago, the likes of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK and even Ronald Reagan would never have been elected.

American presidents used to promise everything under the Sun to the public and would at least try to deliver. Many attitudes of decades ago are better off being left in the past but perhaps that's one to bring back.

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