Saturday, February 21, 2015

Americans are used to being lied to: We shouldn't be

Atlanta, GA – According to Gallup, more than seventy percent of Americans neither have a “great deal” nor “quite a lot” of trust in the office of the presidency as an institution to tell us the truth. This certainly has not been helped by Barak Obama, especially when he said if you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance. And then when his signature AFA act failed, it turned out you couldn’t keep it. He had known all along.

Or when he suddenly changed his mind on what he believed when it came to same-sex-marriage, for years saying he was against it, until in 2012, he “changed his mind.” It turns out, he had believed in it all along, but had been “feigning” belief to the contrary for votes.

And the office of the vice president? On Tuesday Joe Biden said he knew a lot of Somali taxi drivers in his home town. Turns out nobody from Somali even lives there. And they don't drive taxis there.
And we just yawn. Because Americans not only do not have a great deal of trust in the office of the presidency, but also in other intuitions. More than seventy-five percent do not have a lot of trust in newspapers, where once, what they said, or so I am told by very old people, what the papers said was gospel. (“If you see it in the Sun it is so.”)
And news on television? Well, eighty percent don’t trust that. The courts? Less than a quarter of Americans trust them. The banks? Around three in four don’t trust them. (I wonder why.)The trust in business is even worse. To round out the horribly low amount of trust, more than nine in ten Americans do not trust congress. (Surprise, surprise!)
Great, right? We don’t trust the people we elect, the people we get our news from, or even the public schools, (more than seven in ten distrust them.) Of course, they are not helping matters. Think Brian Williams, or Virginia governor McDonnell, who apparently had dirty dealings while in office that are coming out now; or the governor of Oregon, who just resigned amid scandal.
Even on the really big stories, not everybody feels like believing. Think of the Kennedy assassination. There is all sorts of evidence to suggest that Lee Harvey Oswald did actually kill the president, and none to support that it was aliens, the vice president, or the ghost of King Arthur, (no disrespect intended to that worthy gentleman) but still, many, many people believe to the contrary. Perhaps we have all just been lied to once too often, heard “wolf” cried once too many times, or have finally grow tired of admiring the new clothes until somebody shouts “the emperor is naked.”
We have way too many naked emperors in America, from the highest reaches of government, with men in the Security Councils that lie to us, to congressmen and other politicians who don’t keep their promises. Emperors clothed only in lies.
Yes, trust in America is way too low, and does not look destined to rise anytime soon. It has no reason too. And that is dangerous. If people can’t trust the main news services, then they will go off and fine little rags which proclaim wild theories for everything. Or they might, (and are beginning to) stop voting, tired of the whole shebang.
The answer to the problem is of course, simple and complex at the same time. Tell the truth. Great, problem solved, we can all go play Candy Land now. But of course we know that that is not going to happen overnight. People have reasons they lie. It makes them feel better, it makes them look better, and it helps them get away with stuff.
And when we catch them lying, such as John Kerry about his war record, or Joe Biden about his school one, we still vote for them and theirs. Biden, after dropping out of a presidential race in 1988 for being caught lying, is now vice president, and Kerry is secretary of State.
We make it too easy for them to lie to us, and we let them off way too easy when they do. We can’t not any more. We cannot afford the further erosion of trust in America, in our institutions, and what we stand for.
If we continue to let our trust rot form the inside out due to lies, our moral fiber, and our country as a whole will follow. We must hold those above accountable. Stop voting for men and women who are chronic liars. Stop giving them positions of power. Think of what we did to Nixon, and how, after he was forced our for his lie after lie, presidents seem to have stopped breaking into their opponents headquarters.

Second chances are one thing, we are a nation of that. But eighth and ninth chances are quite another.

Andrew C. Abbott

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