Decision America – The Lesser of the Liars?

Though I’d heard about the site before, it wasn’t until today that I visited FactCheck.org. I wish I’d taken the time to chase this down sooner, because I think it’s a worthwhile resource for those trying to sort through the political maze that ends today at the voting booth. I don’t know if the net result of an expedition to this little corner of the www would have been a change in how you vote, but it’s certainly interesting reading. As far as I can tell, these folks are giving a pretty objective treatment to as much of what the candidates (and partisan groups like MoveOn.org, Swift Boat Vets, etc.) say as possible. While you may be disgusted at just how much distortion and outright lying is going on, I’m finding a little relief in this site. Here’s why…

I find political ads (and most campaign messaging in general) to be even more insulting than beer commercials, and that’s saying something. Think about it – the folks at Budweiser have decided that the best way to maximize their profits is to appeal to the base instincts of men. They believe that showing me boobs and butts will somehow trigger a Pavlovian response culminating in me buying Bud Light. That’s insulting, but it pales in comparison to the verbal pornography being churned out by the political ad makers. When they aren’t blatantly lying, they’re doing everything they can to twist facts and perception to portray the guy across the ballot as Satan’s spawn. Pay attention to the music you hear on campaign ads. Look at the grainy photo they show of the other guy with his mouth agape. This is happening because someone with an Ivy League education has determined that a thirty second, low budget horror film is what you need to responsibly exercise your rights of citizenship to the end of securing America’s future. Beautiful.

If you think I’m just being cynical and dark, wander around FactCheck.org. In fact, here’s an easy starting place – The Whoppers of 2004. This is their final pre-election piece that highlights some of the incessant distortion and deception we’ve been subjected to for the past several months. Just be warned – if you have some internal need to continue to admire your chosen candidate without reservation or disappointment, this is not going to be fun for you. These guys both told lies and allowed their surrogates to tell lies. Not fibs. Lies. For the noble cause of protecting or pursuing power, they devalued and disdained truth. You probably already knew that, but I think it’s helpful to be aware of just how brazen and intentional most of it is. I think it’s important that we move toward future electoral exercises with higher demands for those who covet our votes.

I don’t expect perfection in politics. Sadly, I don’t even expect truth. What would be nice, though, is for someone to be honest about the dishonesty. When you try to convince me that one candidate is a saint and the other is a villain, I DO NOT BELIEVE YOU. Politicians whose campaign crayon box only contains black and white crayons are, for me, inherently untrustworthy (and that’s pretty much all of them). Consequently, I am heartened and encouraged by someone who takes the time to call b.s. where b.s. needs to be called, regardless of the offender. We should delight in the exposing of untruth and hypocrisy, even when everyone on the stage is stripped bare. If we must choose from this lot, let us at least thoroughly inspect the livestock, dark underbellies and all.

It is easy for us to become so loyal to a cause or a person that we fear and resist any information or experience which might undermine our certainty. I get that because I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I’m just tired of it, and I can’t pretend that these choices are as simple as they’re portrayed anymore. Let us love the truth more than we love comfort, and let us pursue it without regard for any lesser agenda.

As an afterthought, I think it’s only fair for me to bear down and be honest about what I’d do today if I could vote. It’s easy to rant and whine about how bad everyone is, but I’ve long contended that demagoguery is a poor and usually immature substitute for responsible citizenship and humanity. I’ll stand at the front of the confession line for that sin, no doubt. I’d just like to repent lest I continue needs confess it over and over. In this case, I think that means we still ought to vote, at least unless we’ve found some productive strategy for pursuing a better solution. I’m open to the existence of such a course, though I’m not sure what it might be. I just don’t think apathy or passivity gets any of us anywhere, or at least not anywhere good. So while I joke about being disenfranchised and admit that I found some relief in not having to battle through my conflicting convictions about the choices in this election, I still wish I could vote. And I’d vote for Bush. Then I’d pray my guts out that he’d redirect himself and those around him in some crucial areas.

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11 thoughts on “Decision America – The Lesser of the Liars?

  1. Sometimes, it just comes down to trying to choose the lesser of two evils. I chose Bush.

  2. Don’t be so cynical! Truth is what we make it. Choosing Bush means you choose to make/create/co-construct/invent a better truth. We can’t find truth, we just make it up. So while these ads, distortations, etc. are not the best way to create a more positive truth, BUSH was the only candidate to view a positive future that is not based on the whims of the world. Bring on the “american” revolution.
    Respectfully, Dr. Jayhawk
    PS What about that #1 rating?!

  3. thad,
    i never posted when you told your readers to post. but i’m here. i read. i’m addicted to lurking into the blog world.
    i’m probably a little more cynical than most when it comes to politics.. but i’m with hannah arendt: “Those who choose the lesser evil forget quickly they chose evil. ”

  4. Phil, do you and Hannah suggest choosing the greater evil?
    Dr. Jayhawk, do you really believe truth is what we make it?

  5. It seems to me that the problem with politics is the voter, not the candidate. Don’t get me wrong, all candicates have issues. Some more than others. If voters were REALLY informed about issues, most candidates wouldn’t stand a chance to get into office.
    When I mean informed, I don’t mean pie-in-the-sky, kum-ba-ya stuff (i.e. global warming, save the whales, and save the rainforest). I mean people should know how a candidate thinks about issues that will affect their lives (i.e. national security and taxes). If people took the time to be educated on issues, then they would know what the truth was. I think it boils down to the concept of personal responsibility versus laziness.
    For example. The govenment doesn’t “create” jobs. People do. The gov’t can promote a health environment for jobs, but they don’t really create them. It’s the voters job to earn a living. That would be a lot easier if the gov’t got out of the way. Go through your day and think about the things you do. There is almost nothing you can do that isn’t in some way infulenced by the govenment. Yes, the problem is with the voter. They have given the gov’t power because they are too lazy to do anything themselves… (sorry, off soap box now.. 😉 )
    Hummm, truth is what we make it. Can I really create truth? I can create an object, say a house. That would make it true that the house exists, but I didn’t create truth. Truth is a result, not a cause. Things are true because they happen. They don’t happen because they’re true. People have no power over truth. Truth is.

  6. Of course you can make truth! You are making truth in the 3rd sentence of your last paragraph. The question now becomes what truth best serves the interest of the situation. (Please note: I am not making a situational truth argument.) I would argue that things “happen because they’re true.” Take for example, the creation of the United States. It was the “DECLARATION” that created this country on July 4th, 1776. It was the mere (but sigificant) act of declaring a free and independent state. Israel was created through a UN and British mandate. The 3rd verb of the Bible indicates that God created the light through language. In terms of your line-by-line, you state that it is “true that the house exists, but I didn’t create truth.” But you did! The labeling of the house creates its existence and thereby creates the truth of the house. If people have no power over truth, then what is the point. Are we to live in isolation from others? Are we to give up on creating new possiblities. Even though I am an atheist, Thad and I have created new and insighful positions at times on this blog. This blog creates truth. Todd created truth about the idea that we do not create truth. Now, it is our job to constructivly decide if this is a truth in which we live our lives. I am arguing that this is not the best solution. It is far superior to live in a world where people have the power. We have the power to construct or deconstruct. Why not construct?

  7. I understand your logic, but I look at truth in a different way. Let’s say because I build a house, then I create the truth that I built the house. But what if I didn’t build a house? Do I create the truth that I didn’t build the house? How can I create truth without doing anything? That would mean that I could create truth even if I didn’t exist. It would still be a true statement that I didn’t build a house, even if I was never born.
    Truth does not change. It doesn’t matter if I built a house or not. If I built a house and say I did, then that is truth. If I didn’t build a house and said I didn’t, then that is truth as well. There is no gray area. Either something is true or false. Remember all those true-false tests? You had to read the question carefully because one word could make the question true or false.
    I would disagree that “things happen because they are true”. Can something be true and never happen? If it never happens, how can it be true?I think that “things are true because they happen”. Giving people the power over truth would be very dangerous. Who decides what is true? Can I make something happen if I decide it’s true?
    Let’s look at another example. “Thad created this blog.” That’s a true statement. There is nothing I can do or say that would make that statement false. I can even change his name, but it doesn’t change the fact that he created this blog. You see, truth is. If the entire world was on a path of destruction, truth wouldn’t change.
    There are many things in this world that cannot be explained. What’s your favorite color? Why? What’s wrong with the others? Do you love someone? Why? Now prove to me that it’s true you do. I’ve come to realize that I cannot change what is true and what isn’t. I can lie about something, but that doesn’t change whether it’s really true or not. You see, truth is, and it’s WAY bigger than me.

  8. First, I truly appreciate this exchange. Too often, people are not able to freely express their ideas in a constructive way. In all of your positions you are quite right based upon your metaphysical disposition. The same would be true for my line of argument. And, it is only through this type of dialogue in which a potential mutual understanding could occur.
    In terms of your arguments, there are few places I will argue about here. I think it is a mistake to confuse true/false with a more global perspective of what is truth. Take for example the line that “Thad created this blog.” If we were to change Thad’s name to Chad and reconstituted this language throughout society, eventually Chad would have created the blog. The original author would be quite inconsequential at this point. Imagine for a second if we changed the meaning of a stop sign. From this point forward, a stop sign means speed really fast, and if we taught this new language usage to everyone else eventually the definition would have changed. When you argue that this is potentially dangerous for society, I completely agree. However, that doesn’t preclude us from adopting a definition of truth that allows for a simultaneous creation and experience of self and other.
    Additionally, truth can never be bigger than you. Can you point to something that does not exist? Of course not, this is a meaningless sentence, but it highlights that we must use language to create truth and reality. I hope we can continue this discussion.

  9. First, I truly appreciate this exchange. Too often, people are not able to freely express their ideas in a constructive way. In all of your positions you are quite right based upon your metaphysical disposition. The same would be true for my line of argument. And, it is only through this type of dialogue in which a potential mutual understanding could occur.
    In terms of your arguments, there are few places I will argue about here. I think it is a mistake to confuse true/false with a more global perspective of what is truth. Take for example the line that “Thad created this blog.” If we were to change Thad’s name to Chad and reconstituted this language throughout society, eventually Chad would have created the blog. The original author would be quite inconsequential at this point. Imagine for a second if we changed the meaning of a stop sign. From this point forward, a stop sign means speed really fast, and if we taught this new language usage to everyone else eventually the definition would have changed. When you argue that this is potentially dangerous for society, I completely agree. However, that doesn’t preclude us from adopting a definition of truth that allows for a simultaneous creation and experience of self and other.
    Additionally, truth can never be bigger than you. Can you point to something that does not exist? Of course not, this is a meaningless sentence, but it highlights that we must use language to create truth and reality. I hope we can continue this discussion.

  10. They way I see it, the name of the oringinal author is inconsequenital. It doesn’t matter if we cange Thad’s name to Chad or Bevis (sorry Thad 🙂 ). He still created the blog.
    By changing the name of the stop sign, I don’t believe you change truth, you’re just changing the meaning of “stop”. The truth is, stop meant quit moving on November 4th, and stop meant go really fast on November 5th. The truth never changed and I had no effect on it. I believe that language should be used to communicate truth and reality. I cannot create truth or reality, but I can create fiction (i.e. lies).
    I believe truth will always be bigger than me because I cannot make truth into fiction. I know what fiction is because of truth. Without truth, we have no fiction. Similarly, how do you know what darkness is. You know what darkness is because of light. I believe there is one truth and we can measue all things against it.

  11. Great discussion. I don’t check the blog often enough to get in on these things. I would only add to it that Truth is way bigger than me, and if it’s not, then I am God, which I am not…I appreciate your right to disagree, Dr. Jayhawk, and I know you appreciate mine as well…Truth is way bigger than me.

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