Expectations and Realities in Politics

by Manuel B. Quintal, Esq.

The western front of the United States Capitol. | Photo via Creative Commons

Elections, by which I refer only to the day or days the voters cast their votes, ended thirty days ago, but the rhetoric associated with it is still intense. Maybe more intensified, primarily because the incumbent president has not conceded defeat, and made suggestions that he may be a candidate for the same office in four years.

The chances that courts will overturn the elections’ results have become gloomier for challengers as several judges deny their prayers at every turn. Thus, the transition process, delayed for about a month, the incoming president’s administration will proceed, as provided by law.

The president-elect has named some of the individuals who will be part of his Cabinet and the White House staff. According to the media, some have received favorable reactions from senators who will be part of the Senate confirmation process. This early, others have been considered hard sell to opposition senators. These are just a preview of what is to come after the next administration takes over. Expect more politics in action, which is not necessarily objectionable and derogatory.

“Politics is the art of compromises. According to influential political scientist Harold D. Lasswell, “Who gets what, when, and how,” will unavoidably continue. It is sure to happen simply because of the differences in man’s ideas concerning any matter affecting them, but which needs reconciliation for the sake of the country and the people. When and how long our leaders resolve to get what matters is what is fundamental to us.”

Attention still tilts heavily on the run-off elections of two senators to the State of Georgia. Regardless of what happens, Congress members, particularly the Senate, will see some tough and hard-nosed negotiations and compromises. Politics is the art of compromises. According to influential political scientist Harold D. Lasswell, “Who gets what, when, and how,” will unavoidably continue. It is sure to happen simply because of the differences in man’s ideas concerning any matter affecting them, but which needs reconciliation for the sake of the country and the people. When and how long our leaders resolve to get what matters is what is fundamental to us.

Currently, less than a month before the next set of Congress members take over, they need to address pending matters. The National Defense budget is at the risk of being vetoed by the president. The negotiations on the possible stimulus package that will benefit the businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are still ongoing, and agreement is not forthcoming.

“On the one hand, the present administration’s policies and the declared policies promised to be adopted by the incoming administration; on the other, since many government aspects are opposed to one another, many anticipate changes or transformations to be dramatic and tangible.”

The hopes that we had when we cast our votes may have happened when the leaders we voted for turned out to be winners. Those hopes have become expectations for the realization of what they promised to do. The realization of those expectations become more transparent and closer as we hear declarations of the winners.

On the one hand, the present administration’s policies and the declared policies promised to be adopted by the incoming administration; on the other, since many government aspects are opposed to one another, many anticipate changes or transformations to be dramatic and tangible. The Dreamers await the DACA program to be extended and a pathway to citizenship created for them. Asylum applicants hope to have a more straightforward path to asylee status. Small businesses look ahead to get more financial support to survive. While the unemployed and underemployed expect more job opportunities, the seniors also require better benefits, particularly health benefits. On the opposite side, big business and the wealthy ask for “fair” treatment. Many of us want to travel and hope for restrictions to be relaxed if not removed. Each of the interest groups in our society expects something, one way or another, from the government they put in place or did not want to be at the helm.

Unfortunately, not all our expectations will become realities. And all, if not most of us, must be resigned to that eventuality.

“… [W]e honestly expect the members of Congress and the White House “to find the common ground” to achieve the purposes of a government.”

However, the fulfillment of our expectations will depend on the ability of our leaders to see this through. As the then-incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, a Republican, after meeting in the White House with President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in 2010 said: “The question is, can we find the common ground the American people expected us to find.”

Rightly or wrongly, we honestly expect the members of Congress and the White House “to find the common ground” to achieve the purposes of a government.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Manuel B. Quintal, ESQ., practices law in New York since 1989. He is active in the community as a member, an officer or a legal adviser of various professional, business, and not-for-profit organizations. He was a columnist of Newstar Philippines, an English language weekly newspaper published in New York, from 2006-2009. He was Executive Editor of International Tribune, an English language weekly newspaper for the Asian community, based in New York, from 2010 to 2012. He is admitted to practice law in the Philippines and New York State. He has graduate degrees in Political Science and an LL.M. major in International Law.

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