Growing up the lesson was that we should never ever break a promise. But what about those times when it simply is not possible to keep a promise you’ve made? Even worst keeping the promise you made may do more harm than good. This is the quagmire Republicans are in, they have made a promise that if kept will be hazardous to America.
Since 2010 Republicans have had one consistent message, the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare was the worst thing to happen to American healthcare and to the American economy in American history. They voted over 50 times to repeal Obamacare but didn’t have a President to sign the legislation into law. Consequently they promised donors and voters that when Republicans won the White House the first thing they would do was to repeal Obamacare.
Now Republicans have had control of the House, Senate and White House for 6 months and have not repealed Obamacare. To the credit of Republican Senators, with the exceptions of Senators Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and 4 or 5 others, the majority of Republican senators are caught between keeping a promise by voting for repeal of Obamacare, something they know will do harm to millions of people, or voting to repair Obamacare and save healthcare for millions of people.
It’s the Republican Senators caught between the promise of repeal and the outcome of repeal that offer the best hope for the future of America, they are the ones with heart and are not guided solely by political ideology. These Republican Senators realize the promise of repeal can’t be reasonably and humanely kept.
Senators should remember circumstances change. Life alters our paths, and we sometimes are left with no other choice but to re-align our promises to match the current reality. It’s not their lack of integrity, in those situations, to break a promise. Instead their integrity is measured by what they say and do when they have no choice left and must break a promise.
People First Productivity Solutions suggest steps to take when honorably breaking a well-meaning but hazardous promise. Senators should follow their advice and take the steps by doing the following:
- Acknowledge that you are breaking a promise. This isn’t something you can mask or hide. Don’t wait too long to communicate about this either. If people notice you backing away gradually or denying that you will break the promise, they will remember those actions and realize when you do tell them that you’ve been holding out for a while.
- Explain why you are breaking the promise. But don’t blame others. Ultimately, you are the one who made the promise and you are responsible for your part of that promise.
- Apologize for breaking the promise. Being overly defensive or distancing yourself from the situation makes it sound like this type of promise-breaking could happen at any time because you’re not in control. Instead, be accountable and reveal what you plan to do differently in the future.
• Look for a way to honor the original intent of the promise even though you are unable to follow through on the original plan.
- Understand that the people you made the promise will be disappointed, hurt or angry. They were counting on something and must make an adjustment. You can’t expect them to immediately accept this and move forward.
For those Republican Senators with heart I say remember the words of Thomas Fuller “Better break your word than do worse in keeping it”. For Republican Senators that are strictly about the politics I say remember the words of Niccolò Machiavelli “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present”.
We all can appreciate the caught between a rock and a hard place that Senate Republicans find themselves in, but doing the best and right thing for America and all Americans justifies even breaking a promise made, especially when keeping it means millions will lose healthcare and thousands will die!
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective into current events. Drop by his blog for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.