Truth In Politics

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about politics and remembering a time when I used to think anyone who ran for public office was doing so in order to try making the world a better place. I had that same thought as recently as when our current president was elected; however, something always seems to happen to candidates somewhere between announcing their candidacy and shortly after beginning their first term in office. For those of you now expecting a good old-fashioned Obama bashing I think you are going to be sorely disappointed. I was hoping though that a guy fairly new to the political arena, and lacking in extensive government experience, would at least be a refreshing change from the norm. I figured he would not of yet had the time to acquire a large number of special interest groups; therefore, he would not have the expected obligation of placing their interests ahead of our country’s best interests once in office. Instead I have seen our leader’s decisiveness, willingness to compromise, and even at times his passion, diminish during his administration. I really don’t blame him because I’ve witnessed it so many times before, but I am disappointed.

Let me be perfectly clear. I am not talking about specific policies, platforms, ideologies, or even political parties. What I am speaking of today is the obvious transformation I’ve seen in our current president. I’m just saying the people we elect are usually not the same people we voted for a couple of years earlier, and President Obama is no exception. I do not think there’s anything wrong with a politician changing their stance, otherwise known as the “flip-flop,” on certain issues. We should all have the prerogative to change our minds every now and then. What’s not acceptable though is making mediocre excuses for a newfound position, “flopping” right before an upcoming election, or ignoring (and sometimes even denying) a past voting record. When “flip-flopping” one should be forced into giving an honest and believable reason for doing so.

In general, I think every politician could be liked, or at least somewhat respected, if they were willing to tell the truth at all times. That doesn’t sound too difficult, and it just seems like common sense to me. Don’t we teach our children at a very young age the importance of honesty and that there are consequences to lying? However, honesty does appear a to be a bit unattainable these days when considering the recent past and what seemingly now passes as acceptable rhetoric in the world of politics. So many answers given by our elected officials, to direct questions, are commonly either misleading, half-truths, or just disregarded by the politicians altogether. A fib, stretching the truth, distorting the facts, lying by omission, and a little white lie are merely different fancy ways of disguising what it actually is – A lie! Lying has become very prevalent in today’s society, regardless of what one prefers to call it, and apparently even more so in the political arena.

I think the most blatant lie ever told by someone in the oval office, during my lifetime, was Bill Clinton’s reply, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” after being questioned in 1998, about his possible unfaithfulness to his wife. He emphatically denied the accusation until proof of his infidelity surfaced, and making matters much worse he then made the hilarious claim that he didn’t realize sexual relations included the act of oral sex. It’s extremely hard for me, and probably for any other sane person, to swallow the fact that a fifty-one year old, well-educated man could not have known the definition of sexual relations. How refreshing it would have been if Mr. Clinton’s initial response to the question was that he had sex with a young intern, enjoyed it, and was sorry he got caught (if indeed that was the case), or better yet if he had immediately admitted the affair, apologized to his wife, and then let his constituents know he deeply regretted his actions (but again only if that was the truth) instead of pretending the indiscretion never took place.

As I get older, and maybe a little wiser, I am starting to believe (or at least consider) that all those cynical people, who are so certain, “there are no good politicians in the whole bunch,” might actually be on to something. The truth is I may be a little naïve, but I prefer to continue hoping there are still some elected officials out there who above all else have our best interests at heart.


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