This morning I was driving to court in Detroit listening to the radio about yet another story of the “bridge to nowhere” and other assorted lies on the growing GOP laundry list, I started to get that feeling in my gut once again. It’s not that I didn’t expect the lies (when I ran for Governor as a Democrat my opponent’s staff consisted of several of McCain’s current consultants), but they are apparently getting away with it.
The McCain and Palin ads aren’t the first false campaign ads (although they may be the most flagrant and prolific). It seems so sad that people are willing to dismiss dishonesty because of the symbolic importance of Party. What happens when people refuse to look beyond the symbols of their own political party to the reality?
I wonder what would happen if we judged political candidates the same way jurors judge litigants. You know what I am talking about. Corporate America has been successful in convincing America that lawsuits are a fraud and a scam to get money. Virtually everyone in the jury pool is looking for “the lie”. If a juror gets the impression that someone is not telling the truth, even regarding totally irrelevant facts, the trial is lost. How is it that people are so willing to ignore facts and deny justice to victims, and yet be so tolerant of candidates for the Presidency who blatantly lie?
Most of us listen with the filter of self-interest. What’s in it for me? It is the kind of thinking that allows our leaders to lie to justify war, or torturing prisoners. Without admitting it, it is this kind of thinking that allows ordinarily good people who are doctors to justify lying to protect a colleague from a verdict rather than promoting justice and good medical care. Every lie or injustice that is tolerated because it serves self-interest harms us. It harms our politics, it harms our Country, and it threatens those things that truly are in our interest: justice, peace, prosperity.
What we assume are “self-interests” in an election or a trial are not always what they appear to be. The best way of finding out what end is being sought is to look at the means being used. For example, if your candidate is willing to constantly lie, how do you know when they are telling the truth?
How a person conducts themselves is the most important clue as to their true motive. You know – it’s common sense.