In America, every year is election year now. From the moment the election is finished the next race is on. And with it the money, Lord, the money. Billions and billions to buy elections, to buy power. People will do anything to get what they want. Obtaining power is the end that justifies any means to get it, even sullying the truth.
I am very fond of robust debate, the well-made case, contrasting viewpoints, objections and alternate suggestions. It’s what makes a good democracy go ’round. At their best, multiple political parties can engender that by providing a balance of philosophies, different approaches, different platforms with a variety of planks.
I do have a problem with the money. Our supreme court has not helped the cause. And I do have a problem with the millions poured into soundbite, glittering generality, misleading, unsubstantiated attack ads.
But what bothers me absolutely the most, without question, are the bold-faced lies. Politicos seem to think it’s just fine to slander opponents and twist past actions to suit their fancy. That means deceptive suggestions taken out of context, accusing the opponent of what was really instigated by the attacker, and labeling the opponent, unfairly, as a way to discredit them. It all stinks.
We need several systemic changes:
1. We need campaign finance reform, but we’re heading in the wrong direction. Elected officials are preoccupied with re-election and pandering to their base.
2. We need active, independent truth-telling organizations who, point by point, reveal the objective truth from the record and expose false statements and smears. We need to “out” liars as liars.
3. Citizens need to begin saying they they are turning off attack ads, not voting for those who sponsor them, and instead desire substantial give and take debate (not the media farce that presently serves as public presidential debates).
We’re in trouble, morally speaking, but not due to any of the identified pet ideologies of the parties. We are morally in trouble because lying, bearing false witness against the neighbor, inverting the truth, has become acceptable. And until it is not we will remain in the sewer that has become our political home.