For example, Governor Newsom has recently committed to banning internal combustion engine cars starting from the year 2035 or 15 years from now. Given that this will be long after he's out of office, it wouldn't harm his career in the slightest if the proposed ban ends up as a failure.

As another example, politicians used to set up generous pension funds for government employees. These pension funds ended up to be a complete disaster for local budgets several decades later, but by that time the politicians who enacted the laws have long retired so they couldn't have possibly suffered any adverse consequences.

Is there a proper term for such political maneuvers?

NB: let's avoid discussing Governor Newsom, the effectiveness of combustion engine bans or public pension plans. This question is purely about terminology.

  • Negative consequences for the politician? Or negative consequences for the electorate?
    – Roland
    Sep 24, 2020 at 7:50
  • 8
    This might do better over on English Language & Usage. They field questions like this all the time. My own suggestions would be along the lines of "performative", "posturing" and "kicking the can down the road". Sep 24, 2020 at 10:02
  • 7
    Many decisions require long-term planning; longer than the typical term of an elected official. Most political decisions require trade-offs; if there are no negatives either way, there's no difficult decision. Hence, future negative consequences of planning which extends beyond a politician's term is just called politics. Sep 24, 2020 at 10:59
  • 7
    Yes, there is: Democracy.
    – blud
    Sep 24, 2020 at 14:35
  • 1
    kicking the can down the road?
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 24, 2020 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


Kicking the can down the road


This is the action of delaying a problem till much later - as often done by politicians with tricky problems, but unfortunately this is not unique to political manoeuvring.

Eg here is it used with reference to Australian banks : https://smallcaps.com.au/banks-keep-kicking-266-billion-can-down-the-road/

With your specific example; The transition to electric vehicles is going to take a long time as you have old vechiles being resold and used for 20+ years - I'm driving a 17 year old car currently. I want to save the environment but can't afford a new car. 15 years is actually pretty fast for this transition, too fast to work perhaps.

  • Also, on the electric car thing, a governor or legislature in say 2030 could either extend the deadline by many years- to 2040 or 2050 say- or scrap the whole thing.
    – Damila
    Sep 26, 2020 at 2:32

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