In the 1994 Danish general election, comedian Jacob Haugaard ran for parliament—again. His attempts at election were nothing new—he had run in every election since 1979, but in 1994 he drew more than 23,000 votes and won.
His platform? He promised, among other things, free beer, nicer Christmas gifts, Nutella in all army field rations, continuous green traffic lights, and the reclassification of people without a sense of humor as disabled.
Of course, he wrote a book, If Work is Healthy, Give it to the Sick. Most realized he intended his campaign manifesto to remain solidly tongue in cheek, but one of his policies became law: Nutella in all army field rations.
Haugaard commented about his campaign, “It was all a practical joke, honestly. I guess people elected me because my promises are just as trustworthy as those of conventional political parties.”
Therein lies the rub. We have become so desensitized to promises—political, social, personal, and professional—that we no longer hold others accountable. People trot off to the polls and vote for the same person who didn’t follow through the last time.
CEOs sit in meetings and listen to the VP of sales talk about that ship that is always about to come in. (The harbors must be jam-packed by now).
We used to expect better, but now we don’t. Big mistake. When we start to expect ourselves and others to follow through on promises, good things will happen. If offenders don’t, we fire them from our lives, our political offices, or our businesses.
Let’s not take the sanctity out of promises. Instead, let’s give them the respect they once had.
But if politicians promise to reclassify people without a sense of humor as disabled, I might vote for them on the off chance that they might carry through!
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