It is somewhere in the bible that the truth shall set you free. Supposedly, the truth can set you free. But for many, deceit holds the key to money, fame, revenge or power, and these prove all too tempting.
In history, this has often resulted in elaborate hoaxes, perjuries, and forgeries that had enormous ripple effects. We all grow up telling simple lies and it appears normal until we hold important positions in society that heavily demand for honesty.
Politicians have been inveterate liars throughout history and there is no question about it. Americans have been shocked by the number of lies from their presidents.
In fact the notion that a good president doesn’t lie to the American people is a very big illusion. Historians say many of the world’s greatest presidents were the biggest liars and duplicity was part of their greatness.
But it should not come as a surprise when presidents lie. A politician is one person who can tell you what will happen in ten years to come and has the capacity to tell you why it didn’t happen after the ten years. Such verbal contortionists cannot be relied on. During courtship a young man confessed before his girlfriend that he is a politician but an honest one.
In response, the amused girl also confessed that she is a prostitute but a virgin. Yes, if we cannot have a virgin prostitute then what makes you think that we can have an honest politician? Machiavelli said a leader must be a “great pretender”. Now how do you expect a pretender not to lie?
Presidential dishonesty, like so many things in life, is not what it used to be. In America, before the 1960s, few could even imagine that a President would deliberately mislead the people on matters so fundamental as war and peace.
When the evidence of presidential lying grew so enormous the phenomenon could no longer be avoided, its revelation helped force both Lyndon Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon, out of office.
The pragmatic problem with official lies is their amoeba-like penchant for self-replication. The more a leader lies to his people, the more he must lie to his people.
Eventually the lies take on a life of their own and tend to overpower the liar. Lying may appear to work for a President in the short term, and in many cases it does. But a President ignores the consequences of his deception at his own political peril.
If history teaches us anything, it is that Presidents cannot lie about major political events that have potentially serious ramifications-particularly those relating to war and peace-with impunity.
In almost all cases, the problem or issue that gives rise to the lie refuses to go away, even while the lie complicates the President’s ability to address it. He must now address not only the problem itself but also the ancillary problems his lie has created.
It should come to our notice that the politics of lying is as old as society itself. When a current government campaigns on political honesty and makes a big deal of the previous government breaking promises, accusing them of being liars chances that the new government is going to do just the same. Does that make it twice as bad, or just as bad?
It seems that a little lying is necessary to survive in our complex social world but there is a point where the lying is so self-serving that it becomes counter-productive.
Reality has it that, once you get caught, you lose the trust of others, and that’s very hard to earn back. People in positions of responsibility should not tell lies since this destroys the trust people previously had in their leaders.
Politics in its media-driven and prosperity-oriented format seems to have embraced lying as a necessity. Spin, obviously unrealistic promises, and outright lies are so common as to almost have become the norm.
If leaders keep furnishing us with lies, do we become immune to the act of lying especially when it’s done so well and so often? Politicians seem to have become lying experts. But should we merely accept this as an occupational hazard in the category of a white lie?
The fact that politicians operate on rumours and lies, is detrimental to the existence of democracy. Actually the premise of a democracy is ultimately broken when we don’t know what we’re voting for simply because leaders are clothed in lies.