You can tell when elections are close at hand. Candidates become more frantic, more potshots are taken at opponents, more promises of what they’ll do for us are made and some pretty outrageous things are often said. And done.

And have you noticed the especially aggravating ones with nothing to say about their ideas or goals but only nasty things about the “other guy”? How could you not?

This comes to mind many evenings as I wind a clock on our fireplace mantle. It’s “the” family heirloom…a Seth Thomas built in Plymouth Hollow, Connecticut, about 1826. It’s been in our family since 1845, bought at a Tennessee auction for $3.00 by a great-great granddad.

The clock’s in remarkable shape, keeping excellent time. It’s in such good condition you can still read the written guarantee on the inside. “Warranted good.” That’s it. “Warranted good.” Nothing more. And it’s 184 years old! Talk about “GOOD”!

As I wind it each evening, I often think about all that promising or warranting. That’s all a warranty is, after all: a promise. A promise to perform; a promise to do. It used to mean a “promise to keep.”

When’s the last time a vote seeker gave you a warranty … or a promise … on something and not only kept it but outdid it? A very, very few might. But for many … way too many … it’s often just huckstering.

Now, think about a lot of the louder voices courting your vote every election. In that group I always find an especially onerous subspecies: the ones not proposing ways of tackling and solving problems or even proposing rational if difficult solutions. No, they’re the ones that either demonize opponents or pledge to do some impossible thing.

You know the ones. “Elect me and I’ll reduce government” or “ I’ll cut taxes” or “I’ll get government out of your life.” You’ve heard ‘em. We’ve all heard ‘em.

Think about it: has government been reduced lately; have taxes been cut in any meaningful way; is government less a factor in your life today; will it ever be?

Have these folks that blamed the other guy or the other party or some other level of government come through on their own warranties or, like so many things we buy today, did we put them to work only to find the warranties weren’t worth the greenbacks they were written on?

The answers for me are “no”, “no”, “no”, “no”, no” and too often “yes.”

They’re back out there now. It’s election time again. Promises (“warranties”) are being made. “The health care law is good and I’ll keep it.” “It’s bad and I’ll repeal it.” “I’ll tax the rich and help the poor.” “I’ll tax the poor and help the rich.” “I’ll keep taxes where they are but cut spending.” “I’ll create jobs.” “I’ll create better jobs.” “I’ll tax those rotten banks/off-shore businesses/baseball teams/the NFL.” “We need to protect poor, unselfish, charitable oil companies and go after speculators.” And on and on and on. And on.

Given the economic mess we’re in, and the huge bill we’ll pay to dig ourselves out, about all we can expect from the next team of players is to get us back on solid ground, patch the economic and regulatory holes in our bucket and limit damage to a minimum. Anyone promising more, in my view, has no chance of delivering. And, deep down, knows it!

So, I’ve developed a tin ear for promising. I’m not listening to them anymore!. No, this time around I’m looking for only one name on my ballot. A name with a warranty I’ve come to trust. Seth Thomas.

Comments are closed.