September 3, 2012

We've Been Too Tolerant of Lying From Our Politicians

Spending

Politicians lie. This is not exactly breaking news. But when politicians lie so much and in such blatant ways, they deserve to be discredited and disqualified. Why isn't this happening?

Here's what I'd like to say to Mitt Romney and his campaign (you can imagine me speaking to an empty chair if that helps):
Mr. Romney, you have had different professional experience than President Obama. You may have some skills that he does not. You may have some good ideas about how to get us out of this economic mess. In short, you really might have something valuable to offer your country. So why do you keep lying? You are destroying your own credibility. Instead of lying, how about you show us what you can offer?
Of course, it isn't just Romney and the Republicans who have been lying (although Romney may have set a new record). The Democrats have been doing it too.

The question is why the voters continue to put up with it. In part, we can blame the media. The corporate-owned media in the U.S. can no longer fulfill the role of a free press. They have slashed funding to their news divisions, trading hard-hitting news for sensationalistic magazine-style programming. They have decided that maintaining access to politicians is more valuable than exposing lies and investigative reporting. And they have willingly traded credibility for advertising revenue.

But the media is not the whole story. We deserve our share of the blame as well. We are not out there demanding a more effective sort of media. And even when we learn about the lies, we excuse or ignore them. We tell ourselves it is okay because everybody lies or we attempt to discredit the source. We thrive on outrage rather than reason, and we keep voting for the liars.

I think most of us would agree that politics needs a dose of reason. Perhaps the broad atheist/humanist/skeptic community could offer something here. Can you imagine what kind of influence we could have if we came together to work for reality-based policy? We wouldn't even have to agree on the specific policies, as long as they were informed by reality.

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