Inside Government is a non-partisan effort by a team of established bloggers to examine and explain how the United States Government works. Our team members were each struck in their own ways at how susceptible our own family, friends and coworkers were to various media portrayals of the candidates in the 2008 Presidential and State Elections and their positions on important issues; and what they would do or not do should they be elected to office. It quickly became apparent that media soundbites and campaign ads were accepted as factual when in reality almost all representations contained only partial truths and many misrepresentations of candidates at every level in order to persuade the American people to choose one candidate or the other.
Further, certain campaign promises have become more influential to the electorate than the premise behind the promise. A candidate for office can promise the moon, but delivering on the promise usually depends on the actions of others in another branch of government. Thus most campaign promises are really empty promises with little or no chance of being fulfilled. That the U.S. electorate chooses to believe in the hope of a fulfilled campaign promise when choosing which way to vote rather than trying to understand the real impediments to fulfillment of those campaign promises demonstrates a general lack of understanding of how our government works.
- People voting against John McCain because they believed Sarah Palin would overturn Roe v. Wade illustrates a lack of understanding of the executive power of a vice-president, or even the executive branch. Even if Sarah Palin would be in a position to nominate a pro-life justice that had vowed to vote against Roe v. Wade, that justice would still need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. And with a Democratic controlled Senate, such confirmation to the Supreme Court would be impossible.
- Both John McCain and Barack Obama have vowed to give tax cuts to the American people, and countless Americans have chosen their candidate based on who would give them a better tax cut. However, no President has the power to cut taxes or raise taxes or to refund money to the American people. All powers of taxation rest in the House of Representatives (Remember the phrase “no taxation without representation” from Schoolhouse Rock? Thus the Boston Tea Party?) Congress controls all budgets, spending and taxation. No tax cut can be made without the action of Congress. Of course, with a Democratic controlled House and Senate, Obama is more likely to get his plans through and passed into law then John McCain.
- People voting against Barack Obama because they believed he is inexperienced in foreign policy. While expertise in Foreign Policy is important for any President, the truth is no President makes foreign policy decisions in a vacuum. Instead, Presidents rely on teams of experts to make their foreign policy decisions. That’s what the National Security Adviser, Secretary of State, and other cabinet positions and advisors are for. As long as Barack Obama has good judgment and can surround himself with the right people, he would be fine if he will listen to advice. In addition, the Joint Chiefs of Staff is key in getting any President up to speed on military threats and situations that affect our nation’s interests.
Thus it has become clear that there is a lack of understanding by the American people of how our government works and what each branch of government is responsible for and the checks each branch of government have on the actions of the other. The purpose of Inside Government is to help change that. In addition to being a tool to help explain how our government works, Inside Government will also track key legislation and explain in non-partisan and clear ways how major legislation will affect the people of our country.
We were inspired by the outcry against the passage of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, and we were angered that our elected officials in Washington passed the bailout anyway despite overwhelming opposition from the American People. Our hope is that Inside Government will be an educational voice and report unbiased coverage of the actions of our elected leaders in concert with or despite the wishes of the American People, while clearly explaining the who, the what, the why and the how.
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