Can Politicians Live Up to Their Promises (cont.)

Author Jeff Fisher, Professor Emeritus, Department of Government, School of Public Affairs, American University, explored this topic in "Presidents and Promises." He found that the presidents from the time of Kennedy to the time of Reagan almost always tried to keep their commitments.

Political scientist Michale Krukones made a similar statement in "Promises and Performance." He noted that the presidents who were in office from the Wilson era through the Carter era kept about three-quarters of their campaign promises. 

Sometimes they try to deliver, but have difficulty getting congressional approval. In the 1990s President Clinton tried to reform the healthcare system. In a 1993 speech to Congress he proposed an enforced mandate for employers to provide health insurance coverage to all employees. It was met with opposition from conservatives, libertarians, and the health insurance industry. Many Democrats offered competing plans. In 1994, the final compromise Democratic bill was declared dead.

Going back further in time, USA Today references a promise President Roosevelt made in 1940 to American voters. He pledged that American boys would not be “sent into any foreign wars”—a vow he knew to be highly provisional and that was voided by the attack on Pearl Harbor.