The first time I was old enough to be aware of an upcoming presidential election, I remember hearing some adults discussing the candidates. They were talking about how things may change if one guy got elected, or what might happen if the other guy did. Someone mentioned the promises one candidate was making, and how everyone would benefit if he followed through on what he vowed to do once in office. Another adult chimed in, and said he was only making those promises to get into office; he had no intention of following through.
At this point, I thought a little childish wisdom might liven up the conversation. I piped up and said that if he didn’t keep his promises he should not be allowed to remain in office. This resulted in a lot of laughter and a couple nods, and one particular response I would never forget.
“He won’t get fired,” said some adult. ‘They never do. All politicians are liars, everybody knows that.”
As the other adults nodded and moved on to talking about other things, my unformed young mind reeled at the simple statement. I had sort of supposed that moral fortitude was the most important quality in a leader, or that it was at least in the top five; as much as I may have seen that simple statement proven correct time and again since that moment, my naive viewpoint on this never really morphed into one of acceptance. Instead, I figured politicians must have some unstated agenda they are pursuing somewhere under all those lies and promises; and if they are deliberately telling a completely different story publicly than they are living, they must have a good reason for giving up a valuable life ally like consistency.
That isn’t to say people can’t evolve. I certainly have changed my stance on many things over the years, without ever feeling like I was betraying my own sense of self. The more experience we gain, the more we can see multiple sides of every issue. Like anything in it, life gets increasingly complicated as we look at it more closely. The discerning mind must at some point consider the possibility that the only way to land squarely on one side of any issue is to fail to deeply consider all the others. Yet we have all seen politicians change their stated views on a popular issue right along with majority public opinion, and that is about as far away from an example of personal evolution as you can get.
But I’m obviously not one to speak on the subject of personal evolution. After all, I’m still stuck on the childish belief that our leaders should keep their promises. If they can’t keep them, they should at least be obligated to let us know why. And if they can’t do that, we should maybe start electing people who can. If anyone should be moral role models, it’s the people we put in charge; what can we expect from the average Joe, if we continue to accept the dishonesty of our own leaders as a given?
I have avoided or ended all manner of relationships based solely on the level of genuine honesty people exhibit, and I must say it’s a pretty good criteria for choosing who I spend time with. When I was a dramatic youngster, I even made the comparison a time or two on my way out the door: too many people are like politicians, willing to tell you what you want to hear in the moment but unable to back up those pretty words with actual effort. Firing them is easy, since all you have to do to fire someone from your life is stop talking to them; but firing a politician is hard, and it doesn’t do much good if they get replaced with another moral black hole.
The sad thing is, it has been like this for so long that people have historically looked for other reasons to vote for a leader. Racist people vote based on the color of someone’s skin, sexist people vote based on gender, and people accustomed to having someone lie to them just want the speeches to be given in a dignified manner. We’re so far away from demanding transparency from any of them, the joke has become entirely on us. Rather than be enraged that we have been lied to for so long, by every leader we can remember, a lot of us just want the lies to be pretty and put forth in that fake hypnotic tone we have all become accustomed to. The last thing we really expect is hope and change, or to be better together, or for anyone to make America great again; we just want our leaders to act pious when the cameras are on, no matter what damage they do when we aren’t looking.
Whoa, that veered a little into rant territory.
Sorry about that.
If there is a point to all this, it is only that maybe we shouldn’t be taking so many things for granted when it comes to what we expect from others. If we’re going to raise the bar, why not haul it all the way up to the level of accountability? We may have lost the last several presidents by making them keep their promises, but maybe we would have wised up eventually and elected someone who would. Or maybe a rash of impeachments back when this trend first began would have turned the tide, and we would have a whole different brand of human being stepping up to lead the nation. There’s really no way of knowing, with a population that accepts being lied to so casually.
The only people who get to change their minds more than politicians are weather forecasters. On a regular basis, these folks tell us what tomorrow will be like; and on a regular basis, they’re wrong. Yet they show up for work the next day with no apology or even mention of how wrong they were and have the gall to predict what the weather will be like on Saturday. And many of us keep tuning in.
It’s time for me to cool off on the political front, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop being pissed off about being lied to. Next week we’ll talk about that critical difference between the forecast and the weather, and examine how it is that these folks can be so wrong so often and still keep their jobs. We’ll call the post…
I hope you loved this week’s post, and you come back next week!
Thanks for reading!
All the best,