How quaint that historical thought sounds today. Our elected officials must think so, given the increased number of lies they seem to deliver to us daily. For many politicians and their supporters, lying doesn’t seem to matter much anymore.
Rep. George Santos (D-NY) is our centerpiece this past week for his amazing made-up stories of himself, including false data on his own resume, all the aliases he used over time (who is the real George Santos?), and even last Tuesda, when he said his mother was in New York City and experienced 9-11. Wrong. She was in Brazil, 4,000 miles away. But despite all these falsehoods, that doesn’t seem to matter. Santos will serve in the House for the next two years, because Speaker Kevin McCarthy needs his vote, while the Republicans want to keep him because he seems loyal to the GOP. Their silence is deafening; it speaks poorly of their moral concerns.
Our former president, DJT, was a master of lying and convinced others the election was stolen from him -- among a myriad of other deceptions during his four years in office. Many of his political allies also liked to lie – because lies were so easy to get away with. No punishments.
Lying to the public is contagious, as more politicians’ noses grow longer each day – let’s call that the “Pinocchio Problem.” Prevarication is as contagious now as measles once were – but we found a vaccine to help that illness.
I am not saying that lying in our society did not occur in the past – of course it did. But not to the same extent. And I am not including the white lies we tell at times, oftentimes trying not to hurt a person by telling him he has spinach between his teeth or bad breath.
Why has ling become sort-of okay now? Have we, as a nation, lost our values? I think so.
Lying, to me, is commission, omission or retelling a lie over and over until people really believe it. The commission is when a person actually tells a falsehood, although even that has been labeled “an alternate fact” – which many times a real lie.
The omission part is when some things are omitted from the facts presented. For example, I could present my earnings for 2022 to the IRS, but omit money I made on selling my art work, or, in terms of deductions, I could exaggerate the value of what I gave to Goodwill.
The American Psychological Society said a big lie is “a propaganda device in which a false statement of extreme magnitude is constantly repeated to persuade the public. The assumption is that a Big Lie is less likely to be challenged than a lesser one because people will assume that evidence exists to support a statement of such magnitude.”
Again, Trump’s continuous refrain of the election was stolen from him led to a majority of Republicans believing him, although he recently acknowledged (softly) that he knew it was not stolen. Yet many still think it was stolen.
Lying occurs locally, sometimes by omission, other times because I guess the city wants to avoid telling the public what actually is happening. Council members in Palo Alto are told by staff and the city manager, “We are working on it,” and six years later the project is still not done (e.g., the traffic congestion at El Camino and Embarcadero, or installing on city garages digital signals indicating empty spaces within the garage).
Sometimes I wonder when the Palo Alto City Council gets reports from staff, oftentimes it’s a solid “Recommendation” for action – without including any negative effects of taking that action, which would members make better decisions on issues. Why? Do council members need a staff recommendation, or can they better decide for themselves?
All of this suggests to me that the American public needs to get more vocal about its concern about lying – because it is critical to who we, the people, really are in terms of our values. I heard a former senator speak the other day on states passing laws so that became more as difficult the past couple of years. “Did you stand on the sidelines and do nothing?” he asked “That’s not right. Democracy is at stake when limitations are put on voters.”
So, the question I pose to you is do we want to become silent Americans? Do you care about people losing voting rights or politicians lying so much to us so frequently?
What I describe is real and it is happening now. Do you care? Why or why not?
I remember this thought from something I recently read, and it has stayed with me: Here in America, I believe our truth, our honesty, our word, and our reputation are all we have, and if we accept ongoing lies from our leaders, we compromise not only our own future but also the future of our loved ones.