Truth and civility in short supply from our politicians

Charles Coddintgon
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What if:

Politicians had to tell the truth all the time?

One sure result would be that we’d have fewer politicians and more statespersons.

The unwritten rule in politicking is that politicians must speak “feel-good”-ese. Telling the truth would mean a loss of campaign donations and votes, and office-seekers would have to find more honest work in order to survive in this dog-eat-dog world. It is a curious fact that the average voter believes his/her politician always speaks the truth and thinks the rest play fast and loose with it. Politicians count on this fact and so do all they can to bolster it.

Truth as an abstract concept has been rather fluid over the millennia and across the globe. Humans love a little bit of truth, but not a lot of it. Lots of truth can render them quite uncomfortable, especially when they have spent a lifetime building their personal house of cards; when the house falls apart under such an awful assault, they react violently and find scapegoats for their disillusionment.

Nowhere is this more evident than in these United States, or I should say these Disunited States, during the past two years. We have been treated to alternate facts and fake news almost on a daily basis. Add to this mix the numerous contradictions because the politicians say one thing to one group of people and quite the opposite to a different group, and later deny that they said anything at all, and the end result is that no one knows who is telling the truth. That is how the politicians want it, because it gives them plausible deniability, don’t you know?

Our accidental president exemplifies this notion perfectly. He is a grand-master of dissembling. Most of his absurd statements have been uttered through his tweeting and at the numerous rallies attended by his loyal followers who echo him enthusiastically. In their eyes, he can speak no evil.

Lately, Donald Trump has called upon the news media and other of his critics to be more civil in their own utterances. It is laughable on the face of it. He has demonstrated time and again that he is the most uncivil being to have walked upon the world stage since Adolf Hitler. Empathy is not in his dictionary. Insults, name-calling, ethnic slurs, false accusations, vicious innuendos, and crude remarks based on race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, and physical/mental disorders, none of these are beneath him. Rather, they have become his stock-in-trade; just like an orchestra conductor, he lifts his verbal baton, and the cacophony issues forth in a steady flow. And, because he is the president of the United States, he believes that he can say anything he pleases and others must deal with it as best they can.

Well, dear reader, two persons have dealt with it as best they can, in a most negative fashion. First, a more than 10 suspicious-looking packages containing crude pipe bombs were sent to some of the president’s critics by a man with a history of mental illness. It was quickly followed by a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue at the hands of a man with a history of anti-Semitism. The White House was quick to deny that there were any links between what Trump has said and what misguided individuals did. Yet, these mailings and shootings are hardly coincidental; in point of fact, one might wonder why such acts haven’t occurred earlier. After all, The Donald has been speechifying for more than the past three years about one thing or another. Some have theorized that the 2016 election had everything to do with it, as if that made the acts more acceptable.

Most assuredly, we need more truthfulness and more civility. But we’re not going to get either so long as politicians are given their head. The rules of the game need to be changed, and soon.

Just a thought.

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