Society works because there are contracts and covenants between citizens that they are expected to fulfill. This happens all of the time in our lives. Take for instance if you ask your friend to guard your seat in class while you go to the bathroom. If that friend agrees then he is expected to uphold that promise as any good friend would. However if he breaks that promise and lets someone take your seat while your gone, not only is your trust with that friend damaged, but you’re out of a seat.
According to Thomas Hobbes, writer of Leviathan, “And covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all.” Hobbes is saying here that covenants, which are basically promises that have no serious consequence if they are not kept, are simply meaningless words. He is saying that promises need to be enforceable in order to be effective. The example of the seat being taken isn’t all that serious, but these covenants are broken on a much larger and more important scale.
Politicians are often known for making promises in their campaigns that they end up not once elected. This basically shows that they are lying to the people who voted for them because they promised something. For example, President of the United States of America Barack Obama has broken a few of the promises he made while campaigning for the presidency. According to politifact.com, Barack Obama promised to, “Expand the purposes for which leave can be taken under the Family Medical Leave Act to include reasons related to domestic violence or sexual assault.” So far President Obama has not addressed this issues during his presidency. This may seem like a small issue, but promises like these could’ve seriously swayed voters to vote for Obama. President Obama is behaving much like how Hobbes said he would. The president’s promises are simply words. He may have even made this promise expecting to never fulfill it.
This type of promise breaking is a bit more serious than the stealing of the seat example. The repercussions of President Obama breaking his promises are much more severe. Not only could Obama end up losing voters, but also some people with domestic violence issues may have lost their jobs for missing work due to the fact that they didn’t have medical leave. Obama as well as other politicians have made many more promises that were never kept, which is what leaves some to not trust politicians.
Whether a covenant is miniscule or quite severe, I think that they should be kept regardless of force, as Hobbes says. However, not everyone has the same opinion as I do. What is your opinion? Should politicians be held responsible for things that they say while campaigning? Should there be a severe punishment to keep them to their word such as removal from office? All I am looking for is a government that I can believe in and rely on. Just remember how devastating a broken promise can be.