Truth: The First Casualty in Politics

I have a confession to make. This is particularly difficult because I am a writer. However, I just have to get this off my chest. So, here it is.

I can no longer buy a vowel.

There. I said it. Unfortunately, it gets worse.

I caught myself dreaming the other night. I said “I’ll take ‘I’m being lied to’ for $500, Alex.”

Every autumn, I end up feeling harassed by the bombardment of campaign ads filled with “half-truths” that “stretch” the facts. I believe this amounts to propaganda designed to deceive us. It is unbecoming of those who lead a nation so great and they should be ashamed of themselves - all of them. There is an unfortunate truth we cannot escape: if a politician’s lips are moving, he’s probably lying. Well, that’s what my grandmother always said.

Surely, at some point, some politician, lawyer or judge passed a statute to define terms like “truth” and “lie” so as to introduce semantics to Olympic gymnastics. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to introduce them to a new definition of “term limits.” They should have to go home and live under the laws they pass.

I don’t blame one party or the other - I blame partisanship. It’s not just politicians, either. It’s also any political action committee that has enough cash for airtime: these mysterious groups that put issues on the ballot. I don’t like that any schmuck who gets the signatures can bypass the General Assembly, threaten to alter the state constitution and flat out deceive voters in the interest of their avarice. These immoral people are trying to take advantage of us and it’s just flat wrong. At least politicians have to come into the light to lie to us; these people do it from some dark, smoke-filled corner somewhere without even telling us who they are.

Words cannot express how important it is for us to educate ourselves on the issues. We must seek out credible and objective sources. Most importantly, we absolutely must apply critical thinking.

The propaganda warriors are everywhere, using information as a weapon. We don’t always know who to trust, but we often let our guard down with any talking head who shares our opinions. We should think twice about this. Liberal, conservative; right, left. For every good point either side makes, there is a valid counter-point. No issue is simple enough that one side has the whole truth. We should think “outside the box” so we can gain understanding of a topic from within each vantage point. Only after we have considered every interest from within are we ready to make decisions that affect the whole. Only then are we ready to vote.

The liars have to be held accountable, so it’s up to us to speak truth to power. The problem is that we can’t do it if we take sides. If every American were non-partisan, candidates would have to fight for every vote - just like they do with independents and “swing voters.” Unpredictability in the electorate is one of our best sources of empowerment because it keeps politicians on their toes.

We lose leverage when we favor either political party. They don’t deserve to get elected easily; by serving up the rhetoric we want to hear. Nor do they deserve to get away with practicing deceit.

It’s up to you to hold them accountable. You can start by being unbiased and by thinking critically. It’s up to you to make them earn your vote.

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