A Funny Kind of ‘Transparency’

Look, I know that politicians break promises. I cut them a lot of slack generally because there are always extenuating circumstances. A new president might want to do what he promised during the campaign, but get stymied by an opposition Congress, unexpected events, etc. And, let’s be honest, they often have to over-promise to get elected. I get it. As long as a president generally sticks to the things he said and tries to make steps in the right direction, I’m okay with it.

I get annoyed, however, when a president fails to even put on a show. Presidents usually make at least a few ‘low hanging fruit’ promises that they can keep easily and/or unilaterally so they can say they did what they said. Our last two presidents have also had the advantage of same-party majorities in Congress when they came to office, so they have little excuse for not doing at least some of what they promised.

President Barack Obama’s (D) broken promises of ‘transparency’ are an example of this, and one of my biggest personal disappointments with his presidency thus far. He promised that bills would be posted online for Americans to review several days before they go to a vote in Congress. This hasn’t happened. He also promised that the crafting of major legislation would happen publicly in front of C-SPAN’s cameras for the people to witness. This hasn’t happened either; in fact, C-SPAN’s CEO has been forced to grovel and beg for Congress to let them in and film them [supposedly] doing the people’s work in crafting health care legislation.

These are so annoying because they are so simple. It is trivial to post bills online a week before voting on them. It is trivial to let C-SPAN come into the room when you’re doing Congressional business. It’s time for President Obama, as the leader of the Democratic Party, to demand that his partners in Congress behave in the transparent, open way that they promised when the American people swept them into power.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.