One of my great personal pleasures is to live near and visit the homes and inspirational fountainheads of America’s founders: Gunston Hall, Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier.
The latter of these belonged to James Madison, who analyzed 2,000 years of world political thought before writing the U.S. Constitution, stating to peers at the 1788 ratifying convention: “The people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom so that we do not put confidence in our rulers but in the people who are to choose them.”
Think long on this thought, especially at this critical time of events leading to federal elections. Citizens are awash in political mendacity, a result of which is promotion of societal failure. Honesty in political speech, by those seeking election and by the media that should inform the public about these venues, is a necessity. Our world is short on this essential component in what has been a carefully structured and proven Republic.
The time is imminent when we will or will not recall elected federal representatives that increasingly use methods that have brought public dissatisfaction from every quarter and seem to have led the citizenry to the brink of our doom. November elections are but a few weeks away.
Blatant contempt and disregard for truth is but one kind of dishonesty. There are other issues, which can be quite subtle in nature but equivalently harmful, worth your thought.
1. Errors of omission and commission. It is not appropriate to write a letter of recommendation for a person that states: “To the best of my knowledge, he is not a convicted felon.” While this is not a lie, it omits relevant facts and conveys an unfavorable impression. What is said and/or not said can give purposefully biased outcomes. Another example is to cite that drought conditions exist in northern Chile but fail to add that it has not rained there in recorded history. You get my drift.
2. Half truths offered as evidence and proof.Contempt for the full truth, such as stating “these statistics came from a well-researched report” without citation or explanation of who bought and paid for the research, is dishonest. If a study is purchased or performed by persons in the employ of a vested interest, it is the height of impropriety not to acknowledge and remind the listener or reader of this condition. Misrepresenting or obscuring sources of facts and figures is equally reprehensible.
3. Citing a few or tentative details or hearsay as conclusive. An example of this bias was obvious in the ongoing case of Trayvon Martin in Florida, where the accused murderer faced an immediate media outburst showing photographs of a handsome, smiling child as the victim instead of a current photograph of a fully mature 18-year-old.
4. Juggling statistics. National employment figures, for example, are used to give biased views of reality. They are most often reported using statistics purposefully slanted by the speaker or reporter. Claiming that the “unemployment rate is down” but failing to note that those who dropped out of the job market were excluded in the survey is a purposeful deception.
5. Citing an unusual case as if it were typical. When the Senate Majority Leader cited on the Senate floor that his opponent party’s Presidential candidate had not paid taxes in 10 years, a low point was evident in the history of U.S. political hubris. What was obscured was that Mr. Romney did not pay “earned income” tax (because he never took a salary) but paid substantial sums in tax on interest, dividends, capital gains and other sources.
6. Defaming demagoguery. Use of racial and class-warfare aggravations in political speech is reprehensible. Pitting Americans against each other is NOT an acceptable objective in campaigns by candidates seeking public office. These matters were well described as “rules of the road” by Joseph Goebbels, Reich minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany. “If you tell a lie big enough and it is repeated, people will eventually come to believe it … It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Goebbels’ words, not mine.
Never forget that using lies and distortions, such as these variants cited, only breeds a divisiveness that is detrimental to America. It is my heartiest recommendation that you see the documentary film “2016: Obama’s America,” directed by Dinesh D’Souza, before Election Day. Think long before making your choices at the polls. Nov. 6 will certainly usher a most important moment in your life. IH