Do Politicians Negotiate

In a manner of speaking politicians negotiate for your vote. They stand up and tell you what they think you want to hear to get your vote. They make promises you expect them to keep. In essence, they make a contract with you based on trust.

No matter the negotiation venue every instance of human interaction requires a basis of trust upon which commitments can be built. Conflict resolution, alternate dispute resolution, negotiations, mediation, settlement discussions, debt restructuring, salary and performance reviews are all examples of human interaction. Whenever our species interacts, the discussions are colored by the natural inclination of each person involved to trust or distrust the others.

Therein lays the problem. Politicians from all sectors of the political landscape have become so adept at playing to the crowd that we no longer trust them. They have proven time and again that when they get to Washington they will quickly forget the promises they made that enabled them to get there.

So the contract is breached. You delivered and they reneged. What should you do?

When someone breaches a contract you have several recourses. Some are based in law and some are personal. A politician who breaches his contract with the voters knows they will never sue for specific performance or otherwise try to enforce the contract through legal channels. But they should fear the other ramifications of breaching the contract with their constituents.

As a voter you have the privilege of voting. Actually it is your responsibility. Your representation should be very important to you. If a politician promises to represent you to get your vote then does not do so once elected you should consider the following actions:

1. Spread the word. A word-of-mouth campaign, if it catches on, can be effective in either causing the politician to rethink his actions or come back to the local group to try and make amends.

2. Speak Up. Call, email, mail, fax and otherwise make sure that he or she knows that you are not happy, that you are telling your friends, and that come the next election he will have a hard time getting your vote. The pressure is always on the politician during the run up before an election.

3. Find a New Candidate to Support. There are lots of wanna-be dog catchers. If your politician fails to represent you, find and encourage someone who will to run and actively support this person.

4. Report the Breach. Everyone has a boss. Politicians are no different. Their 'bosses' are those who give them money to run. If you are unhappy with you or representatives performance write or email or otherwise contact the local party organization, the state organization, and the national committee making your concerns known. And copy your representative each time. Do not let them forget that they serve at our pleasure; not the other way around!

We are seeing trust erode as politicians pursue seemingly unpopular programs and use questionable means to secure the votes necessary to get them passed. The culture of backroom negotiations and payoffs is the same old political practices common to both political parties that the American people have come to distrust. This distrust, if left unchecked, will undermine the general public's faith in government.