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Haupt: Politics a grandiose sales pitch

By   /   May 16, 2017  /   No Comments

“Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.”

– Oscar Ameringer

According to a recent Gallup report, Americans regard the clergy as the most honest and honorable of all professions. And this same survey lists the bottom three professions they deem least tolerant: Car salesman 9 percent, politicians 8 percent and lobbyists 7 percent. Can anyone believe that a car salesman is considered as honest and trustworthy as those running our governments?

“Could it be because you can now merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal? As Adlai Stevenson said, “We gather votes like box tops?” Yes, we are now indeed selling out votes to the highest bidder like used car salesmen hock their 10 year old, high mileage junkers on the late, late show. And,

“This has become the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.”

– Adlai Stevenson

The public’s distrust for car salesmen is universal. As we hear the words “car salesman,” we think of that cigar smoking, tire kicking, slick haired, unfashionably dressed shyster that tried to sell you a car driven by the little old lady from Pasadena. Although this is a far-reaching stereotype, behind every prototype lurks some truth. And,

“What people believe prevails over the truth.”

– Sophocles

Of course, we all understand why lobbyists rate last. They have always been the most questionable ingredient in the political equation. This is political fact without a hint of invented fiction.

“Too often government responds to the whispers of lobbyists before the cries of the people.”

– Andrew Cuomo

But, the dismal rating that they gave to politicians is abhorrently disturbing. Many blame this current intolerance for politicians on the extreme political divide in our country. But that theory is nebulous. In 1513, Machiavelli, considered the king-philosopher of political manipulation, wrote “The Prince.” In that thesis, he profoundly and insightfully described the behavioral patterns of politicians whom he had witnessed and studied for years. Yes even in the 1500s, politicians received a very low rating in the Renaissance public opinion polls.

“Politics have no relation to morals.”

“The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.”

– Nicolo Machiavelli

Forbs told us, “Let’s face it, life is a sales game.” It is called marketing. Businesses, car salesmen, telemarketers and politicians have been touting the merits of their goods for centuries. The inimical political position society has taken today is, politicians are so desperate for a piece of the action; voters expect grandiose returns each election! Just like those ludicrous claims car hawkers make, voters are actually buying into these charismatic “pitches” for “add-ons.” They are willing to give up liberty, freely trading it for their votes! They somehow convince themselves those things are “easily financed.” Yet James Madison said, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”

When these promises are broken, voters go after politicians the same way they denigrate that sales guy who sold them a “barbecue machine.” The one that burnt up three days after their “too good to be true” deal was made. Instead of a wake-up call to the real world, they “bellyache” until the next election and they vote for them again. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee our happiness, only the ability to pursue it. And when it’s time to buy another car, most avoid the last salesmen who pulled the bait and switch, but they buy from the same type of slick talking shyster who makes them the same enigmatic “pitch.”

“It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.”

– Ben Franklin

Politicians use everything to buy votes. And the car salesman does the same to make a sale. Both buyers and voters act on emotion instead of common sense because it’s human nature. Although politicians would have a better reputation if they toned down their rhetoric, the stakes are too high if they “lose the sale.” Both politicians and car salesmen are not pathological liars. But, if a salesman claims his Ford sedan includes far more equipment for the same price as the guy’s down the road, you’ll never know unless you price them both. If a politician claims he’ll bestow lavish entitlements upon you that won’t cost a dime, you should check with his “competitor” to see if he is offering a better deal. Politicians and car salesmen work alike. They both make dubitable promises and we believe them.

“Only God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”

– Dwight Moody

Once you have the keys and drive your car off the lot, there’s no turning back. Before we give the politicians keys to our government’s doors, it might behoove us to study the fine print before we close the deal. We all know states have “Lemon Laws” to protect buyers if they buy a car that’s a pile of junk! They cover expressed and written warranties and buyers have recourse if contracts are breached. You rid yourself of the bad vehicle if it is “does not perform well.” The voters have the same type of law to get rid of an incompetent politician. That law is Election Day! We can trade in the “lemons” when they prove they are “souring” instead of trying to “refurbish” them!

“In Europe, politicians resign when they’ve lost public face. But in America, we must impeach ’em.”

– Bill Rogers

Competition is effective motivation. When healthy competition prevails, you have an opportunity to win. It brings out the best in products and the worst in people. Both customers and voters alike can make or break ones career. Realizing the urgency to “out-pitch” the competitors, politicians and car salesmen do anything to “close the deal” before that prospective buyer flees the lot or voting booth. They will tell them anything they want to hear. It’s hard to get valued answers and it takes common sense to depict the truth. Car buyers go to Consumers Digest and read the reviews before they venture to that antipathetic sales lot! But, we do not research our politicians as fervently. We’re baptized with campaign ads and vote party regardless of their Machiavellian declarations.

“There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.”

– Alexis de Tocqueville

Politicians and salesmen work for corporate machines. If they don’t close the deal, they are out of work. For the first time in decades, we elected a “Mr. Smith patriot” for president instead of a slick politician and professional salesman. He did not make elusive campaign sales pitches much like those “tire kickers” who try to “up-sell” us on unrealistic “extras” or “package deals.” Mr. Trump was elected because he made realistic, constitutionally correct promises appealing to a broad base of American voters. But after years of deception and misguided half truths, some voters are getting restless since their Mr. Smith has been waylaid by professional politicians in Congress peddling a bill of goods. President Trump is not a salesman or a politician. And like any consumer and voter, he is trying to survive an onslaught of deceptive rhetoric.

“Any politician who claims to solely vote the way their constituents want them to is either a schizophrenic or “B&% S#% you.”

– Ray Osland

Next time you vote for an incumbent, remember that shady car sales guy: Did he honor his word? How many pledges made were left unfulfilled? Buyer’s remorse is hard to swallow. But voters have the power to bring more Mr. Smiths into our governments. When you vote for a candidate, you are investing in America. You need to do your shopping before you close the deal. If the deal is too good to be true, it is. Do we need to elect more seasoned pros or patriotic real Americans and be patient that this is on-the-job training for him? Did that last candidate deliver “change you believed in?”

“In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.”

– Barack Obama


William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, citizen legislator in California for 40 plus years, and author. He got his start working to approve prop 13.