Like all political platitudes, “I promise…” is interpreted by the American voter as :
“Rock-a-bye-baby on the tree top.”
The campaign trail promise is soporific; it puts your audience to sleep.
The expression trivializes what you are about to say. Voters have heard the expression so often it tells them you offer nothing new.
Besides signaling listeners to disengage, you evoke and associate yourself with the stereotypical image of the schmoozing, lying politician instead of establishing yourself as a reasonable citizen with clever, innovative ideas that will solve community problems.
“I promise I will…” introduces the element of character reliability for the voters’ consideration, instead of keeping their focus on your ideas.
By presenting a proposed course of action that supports a specific vision instead of a pledging success, you avoid paying the price for the dishonesty of others and you keep the election focused on the selection of actions instead of asking for a leap of faith based on your un-tested virtue.
Most campaign promises pledge permanent removal of a universal problem inherent in all non-Utopian societies.
There is a world of difference between stating that you will propose specific legislation to remedy a precise, tangible, local problem, and pledging to eliminate corruption in Washington, high taxes and oversized government.
You cannot promise to eliminate or “put a stop” to these.
The core of the campaign speech should be a very substantive explanation of legislation you intend to introduce or support. This well-researched list of objective-oriented tasks should convince people to vote for you because you have articulated the best solutions to their problems that involve government in some capacity.
You can target precise practices that facilitate corruption, inefficient programs that waste tax-payers’ money and agencies no longer needed in your state. The more specific this plan is, the better.
Just don’t preface it with the expression, “If I am elected, I promise…”
“The most intelligent way to fix x is y…”
“To solve X, I believe the most effective solution is y.”
“My opponent’s remedy was x, and it was not successful because y…”
By avoiding the platitude, “If I am elected, I promise…” you elevate your campaign speech from a cliche-ridden bore to the presentation of a task-specific action plan voters can assess. The first speech insults voters, the seconds shows respect for their time, their intelligence and the value of their vote.
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