“I’ll CUT the DEFICIT!” The words scream down from a billboard along I-15 in a rural part of the county north of me. I’ve seen it several times in the last few months during my drives from one end of the state to the other. The dude smiling in the picture isn’t even running for Congress anymore, so I guess maybe he was running a deficit of his own with regard to campaign finance. But, every time I drive by the billboard I can’t help but ask him…how? What will he do that all the rest of the Utah delegation in DC has not? It’s not as if Chaffetz and Lee are out there voting “Yea” on every single spending bill that comes their way. Even our lone “D” in Washington tends to vote more like an “R” the majority of the time. The fact is, there is nothing this guy can do to cut the deficit that isn’t being done by Utah’s politicians already.
But, you know what? It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters in these parts is that he has an “R” after his name and can throw out a few good buzzwords like “CUT” and “DEFICIT.” The only thing better would be tossing in a few others that seem to carry weight around here. “SOCIALISTS!” or “FASCISTS!” work well. So do “OBAMACARE!” and “OBAMA WANTS YOUR GUNS!” or “MUSLIMS!!!” “CUT TAXES” is another good one, even though Utahns are some of the least taxed people in the nation. And never mind that we spend about the least per pupil and face education funding shortfalls every year, which would lead a rational person to wonder how cutting taxes will improve that. That simply doesn’t matter in this new age of political rhetoric. All that matters is that “TAXES WILL BE CUT!”
I guess it’s a pipe dream to expect campaigns actually built around messages and platforms anymore. In the age of sound bytes, Tweets, status updates and “likes,” only the keywords seem to matter. Now, had this smiling face on the billboard proclaimed he would “CUT WASTEFUL SPENDING” I might be on board. Just because I’m progressive and support nationalized healthcare, Social Security, assistance for the jobless and people who need a helping hand doesn’t mean I don’t believe there’s a lot of money being spent in Washington where it shouldn’t be. We all remember the expose on the Pentagon spending $5,000 for a toilet seat and $10,000 for a hammer. Budgets and programs are huge and it becomes very easy for spending to become wasteful if things aren’t monitored carefully, such as million dollar conferences in Vegas where attendees walk away with commemorative coins. I know there are plenty of ways we can find savings in our government’s spending. But, it would require leaders who actually get behind their messages and who are serious about getting things done — as opposed to just throwing out keywords to strike a chord and win an election.
I can’t help but start humming a great song from the 80s every time a political commercial comes on.
“Do you hear me
Do you care
Do you hear me
Do you care
My lips are moving and the sound’s coming out
The words are audible by I have my doubts
That you realize what has been said
You look at me as if you’re in a daze
It like the feeling at the end of a page
When you realize you don’t know what you just read
What are words for when no one listens anymore
What are words for when no one listens
What are words for when no one listens it’s no use talkin’ at all”
At least, our current politicians hope this is the case.