Look, read my lips

Joshua Hardee, Assistant Editor

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The word politician is synonymous with liar in some dictionaries. And I think we can all agree that’s a fair assessment to make based on the track record of many of our politicians, especially these days.

With the elections coming up soon, presidential candidates have already begun establishing the platform they’re going to run on; all of which will likely feature empty promises that are almost insulting to any reasonable person. I’d like to believe what they’re trying to sell comes from a genuine place and they’ve done the necessary work to be able to achieve it in a way that benefits the majority.

But all too often, politicians reveal their deceitfulness or how contradictory they are in ways that live on in infamy. “Read my lips: no new taxes” – “I did not have sex with that woman” – “I experimented with marijuana and I didn’t inhale,” are some of the lighter artifices that remind us of this.

I worry that we aren’t being quite as discerning as we should be in vetting those who run for office or that we are being too forgiving of people even when we’ve seen the huge red flags that stand out in the choices they’ve made. Moreover, the way the media haphazardly portrays candidates and covers their campaigns and careers is detrimental to voters and is so biased that the entire political playing field has become insanely distorted. And this distortion opens the door for the kinds of leaders who plague us now.

It scares me that people like Bernie Sanders have the kind of support they do. Surely most of us can see through a socialist zealot when it’s so obvious? What’s more, although I want to think his supporters genuinely want more equality socially and economically, they must be forgetting that socialism is only one step away from communism; which in turn usually escalates into some sort of authoritarianism. Again, more pretty lies to rouse people to elect another demagogue.

You know, it feels like the political landscape now only brings people to the surface who are capable of or willing to surround their campaigns in drama or scandal. I should think people who can keep scandal at bay, not only for their sake but certainly for the country, would make better leaders. Most never present their beliefs and goals in a way that achieves both a sense of authenticity and a reasonable explanation of how they plan to make that a reality. I loathe the cowardice and fake empathy that pervades so much of our political discussions today.

It’s hard to not come across as patronizing on this topic and that certainly isn’t my intention. But I think people often forget that the place of those we elect is something called public service, not a platform for some perverse real-life drama that keeps us on the edge of our seats. What public service entails is usually brimming with difficult decisions and incredibly sad circumstances for a variety of people; but we have to confront these particularly harsh realities to get anything done. As an example, a doctor may prescribe a very rough or unpleasant treatment to actually cure a patient or encourage their condition to improve, but it’s necessary. This is just as true in politics, whether you like it or not.

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