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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 4, 1998. Interview C-0336-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The challenge of keeping political promises

Scott describes "the way politics often works": politicians make promises, then have to find a way to pay for them. He briefly reflects on the kinds of obstacles that might prevent a politician from meeting their commitments.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 4, 1998. Interview C-0336-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

When you talk about those issues having come into some prominence when you were talking with educators, or when you were talking with highway contractors, did you at that time, in a sense, commit yourself to proposing those taxes, or were they just options that you raised, or—?
We didn't talk about how we were going to pay for it. That came later, and that's the way politics often works: you make a commitment, and you have to figure out how you're going to meet it. I have a theory about that, about government in general, and I have a little talk I make occasionally, about misconceptions about the office of governor and the powers of the governor. One is that candidates get out and campaign on issues, and in the heat of the campaign they say, "I'm going to do this", "I'm going to do that", and so forth, and then if they get elected, all of a sudden they got to deliver, and they haven't really thought about where's the money going to come from to do that. And they are, sometimes, I think, in their first term at least, they are surprised by the limitations, the obstacles the governor has. There are legal limitations, of course; there are limitations of tradition; there are limitations of public opinion, some things you just don't do, and so on. So, no—all I was thinking about, what would be a good program, and what would be some popular issues that people would want? I didn't worry about paying for it. I didn't even think about it. But the money's going to have to come from somewhere. You would think that a person who'd served as lieutenant governor would know and appreciate those factors. But again, as Governor Moore said, there's no training ground for governor. And though I knew the process, there was an awful lot about it that I didn't know, and I would suggest that's true today.