This story has been circulating around the Internet for a few years. It supposedly comes from a teacher in the Nashville, TN area but I am unable to pin down the precise origin. Nevertheless, it’s an illustrative example of an age-old political tactic.
The teacher related that during the heat of the presidential election the children in her third grade class became interested in the campaign. She decided to hold a mock election in class for instructional purposes.
The class was directed to select two nominees who would each make a campaign speech, after which the class would discuss the merits of each and then vote. Ultimately, two of the students, Jamie and Olivia, were nominated.
According to the teacher, both of the candidates were good children but she thought that Jamie might have the advantage, as his parents were very involved in his education. On the other hand, she had never met Olivia’s parents.
On the day of the election Jamie gave the first speech. He spoke about specific things he would like to do to make the class a better place and concluded his speech by promising to do the very best he could. The speech received applause and Jamie sat down.
Olivia walked to the podium and made a very short speech: “If you vote for me, I will give you all the ice cream you can eat.”
The class erupted in applause, cheering for Olivia and the promised ice cream. After all, what eight year old doesn’t enjoy ice cream? Olivia could have continued speaking, but instead, sat back down. There was nothing more she needed to say.
In the discussion afterward, the teacher raised a few questions. How did Olivia plan to pay for all the ice cream. She wasn’t sure. Would she pay for it or would her parents? She had no idea and the class really didn’t care. All they could think about and talk about was ice cream. Jamie was quickly forgotten.
Olivia won the election in a landslide.
In the course of the past three years of his presidency, Barack Obama has done nothing but offer the equivalent of ice cream, ballooning the national debt by several trillion dollars. A sizable percentage of the electorate reacts to his promises like the eight year-olds in this story. They want ice cream and they don’t really care who pays for it.
The remainder – the adults – understand perfectly well who is going to pay for it and that ultimately, we will be the ones feeding the cow, milking it and then cleaning up the mess.