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Why candidate rhetoric is a bad indicator

Vox_Veritas
Posts: 7,076
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12/18/2015 9:07:52 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
Candidates will bluster during campaigns. They will make inaccurate claims. They will make extreme claims which may even demonize one group or several groups. They will make extreme campaign promises. But that stuff ultimately is a poor indicator of how good a president such a person will be.
Why? Well, several reasons:
1. They're trying to win an election. They aren't trying to state their opinions. Good candidates know how the masses think and they'll accordingly tell the masses what they they think want to hear. If the base they're appealing to has some extreme positions such a candidate may even say extreme stuff to court their vote. Their objective is to grab as many votes as they can and they'll usually say whatever it takes to achieve this.
2. Even presidents who actually have extreme views during the election will usually mellow out after taking office. With tons of advisors and briefings they will after taking office see why such-and-such is unacceptable and why such-and-such which they talked about during the election was wrong. One commonly cited example is JFK's "Missile Gap", though this example isn't what it seems.
3. Congress serves as a check to the President's power. As a result the President can't do whatever the neck he wants. The more extreme the President's agenda the less likely that Congress will let him get away with it.

Thoughts?
Call me Vox, the Resident Contrarian of debate.org.

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000ike
Posts: 11,196
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12/18/2015 9:41:14 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
My instinct is to say that your conclusion is a truism, but then I'm reminded there are people in the public and indeed on this website who are genuinely impressed by the aggressive and uncontemplative projections of the GOP front-runner.

I'm sure it's a combination of impulse, impatience, and unnecessary fear fueled in part by the demagoguery from the republican campaigns, and also in part by the media's sensationalistic presentation of the recent news (essentially irresponsible agenda-setting). People want immediate and dramatic change to complex problems, so they're swooned by any kind of meaningless propitiation from people who want their vote.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,251
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12/18/2015 9:59:12 PM
Posted: 11 months ago
It might be the other way around actually. One could argue that candidates have reason to be on their best behavior during the run up to the election, as well as to take centrist positions on controversial issues, and once they get into office they are more free to say and do as they please because they don't have to pander to the electorate until the next election cycle.