Politicking: Why Are Lies Acceptable?
Politics is a hardball game, we all know that. Half the battle in a political campaign is to paint your opponent in the worst possible light. At least, that’s what we’ve come to support as an electorate. Quite often this means stoking fears and inciting hysteria.
What we define as a good politician is someone who knows how to cherry pick partial facts in such a way as to present a damaging image of his opponent. Those facts might be out of context and therefore misrepresentative, but as long as they are facts we say it’s fair game. We aren’t that interested, apparently, in whether the candidate has demonstrated personal integrity or can articulate a creative philosophy and peaceful vision.
Lately, we’ve even come to accept third party organizations, who have no accountability, to participate in distorting the policy positions and characters of candidates they don’t like. These organizations give their candidate room for plausible deniability (“I had nothing to do with that!”) Even when they know that a third party is slandering their opponent, they don’t call them out for it. It serves them well to stay silent and let the public hold onto those misperceptions as they enter the voting booth.
What about outright lies? Do we care? If it’s a slanderous lie about the candidate we oppose do we think that’s acceptable? Are we able to actually take in the data that refutes the lie? Research suggests no. That when presented with solid evidence that our candidate is lying, we defend him even more. Why aren’t we interested in integrity?
I ask because both campaigns have been guilty of this. Obama has been misleading about McCain’s “…we might be there 100 years….” and McCain repeatedly deceived about Obama’s tax plan. Both of these tactics are used to push a fear button in the voter so that she will vote for him in order not see her fears realized with the other guy.
We fall for it every time. Then we act disappointed” when our leaders turn out to lack integrity. So, Bush, who ran as “The CEO” president of America has managed our country into financial ruin. But he failed at every attempt at being a CEO prior to being elected, so what did we expect?
When do we stop being sycophants based on the simplest expressions of fears where we don’t really examine this person who would represent us and start having deeper consideration for what we feel would best move us toward peace and a life with dignity?
For me, integrity is a starting point. I can barely consider the person’s claimed policy agenda if that person has demonstrated a lack of integrity. Without integrity, you can’t trust a person, so what does it matter what he says?
Bill Clinton lost me the moment it became clear that he had cheated on his wife and had treated the women he’d had extramarital affairs with so horribly. Beyond the concern for treatment of women, there is a simple integrity problem. He’s not to be trusted. I have the same assessment of John McCain. He started his relationship with Cindy while he was still married to Carol. Carol had been severely injured in a car accident while he was in Vietnam. Apparently, the sense of honor he brought home with him from his POW experience didn’t extend to honoring his wife. He and Cindy signed their marriage license before he was even divorced. Not to mention that upon meeting Cindy, he lied to her about his age. One presumes because he thought she wouldn’t be interested in an older man. So, his personal style is to lie when he thinks he won’t get his desired outcome. Great. Just what we need. If a person can’t be truthful to those in his inner circle, those he proclaims to love, when would he consider it problematic to lie?
McCain has admitted to lying. He simply states that he lies for the sake of ambition. There he is on video admitting to lying and stating why. Once you know this about someone how do you trust him on anything? Why would you? Why would you not want to face the facts and re-evaluate your support? Why become more entrenched in your position?
This is something I simply don’t understand. Yet, I watch us continually elect and promote known liars. It leaves me feeling hopeless, really.2008, integrity, lying, McCain, Obama, president