One of the wisest men I know, who was once described by a business associate as a man with “impeccable integrity,” my father, wrote this:
Today is my birthday, so I think I will do something I do not usually do. I will blog. I had hoped…even believed…that I would get my greatest birthday gift ever, a new President. But I learned a long time ago that we don’t always get what we want, at 62 I am old enough to know that.
I have paid close attention to politics since I was in college. The first presidential election I was eligible to vote in was 1972, Nixon vs. McGovern. I did not like McGovern’s policies and I couldn’t understand how this man, McGovern, who admittedly started with nothing when he entered politics ended up quite well to do, but that is another story. At the time, I was young and idealistic and I thought the biggest disservice a President could do to the public was to lie to them. In a democracy you need information to make proper voting choices, so lying to the public, to me, was worse than bad policies. I voted for McGovern, it was a protest vote.
I knew Nixon was lying big time. His Watergate lies hadn’t been exposed yet, but the evidence was overwhelming if you were paying attention. I grew up in a very conservative neighborhood. All my friends, and especially their parents, were behind Nixon. I was the maverick. They were kind to me, but they couldn’t believe the President of the United States was out right lying to them. I knew he was, and in fact he was. That revelation to the country came after the landslide election victory that Nixon won, and led to his later resigning from office. I mark that as a turning point in American society, the time when respect for authority suffered a great blow that it has never recovered from.
Indeed, now many people assume their government routinely lies to them, and I believe they are often right. But there is something worse than a government that lies to the public, and that is a public that accepts the lies, either out of indifference, ignorance or too often, convenience. Just recently we had a former President who had explicitly lied to the public on national television, then later to a court of law under oath, complain that we shouldn’t trust a man who would lie to us to become President. The saddest part of that sorry episode is how few people paid attention or cared what he had just said. Just more of the same. Too inconvenient to hold him to account; he is after all a popular fellow and agrees with the majority’s world view, so what difference does a lie make?
I think that is where we are today, and I think that is one of the major reasons the biggest con man in American history has just been re-elected President of the United States. A majority of the public no longer care much about the truth. To quote another great con man, “the truth is inconvenient.” No, a majority of the public is happy to go along with the free lunch propaganda. We are all Greeks now.A majority of the public and most of the media are all too happy to look the other way while great lies are told and honorable men have their reputations trashed because that is easier than telling the truth or addressing real issues. My friends and their parents in 1972 looked the other way and we re-elected a liar whose lies had a profound impact on the morality of the entire country.Many in the government have been lying to us for years. They do not tell the truth about how they spend our tax money. They do not tell us the truth about who pays the taxes. They use budgetary gimmicks or simply ignore accounting for it all together (off budget items). That other great con man, Al Gore, lied to us about many things, but I think my favorite was the Social Security “lock box”. We will soon be opening that lock box and the assets big Al promised us won’t be there. The lock box is filled with slips of paper, mere promises from a lying government.
We just went through a campaign where one candidate simply made up false stories about what the other believed and a majority bought it. Too much work for the press and public to actually pay attention, but then paying attention would be inconvenient to their world view.
We just went through a campaign where one of the most honorable men in our political history was willing to run the gauntlet of lies and distortions because he wanted to help his country. He didn’t need the job. He doesn’t need any job. He didn’t need it for his resume; he already had one of the most impressive resumes of any man to run for President. He didn’t need it for a cool address, he already owns one of the coolest houses on the planet. He didn’t need it for his ego, so unlike the great vanity of his opponent. He was a man who understood that his many and great accomplishments were not the most important measure of him. He was the best kind of humble, he chose to be that way. He was truly a man prepared and ready for this difficult time.
But the lies had it, the motion carried. We were conned again. The country just made a huge mistake because a majority is willing to accept being lied to by their government and press. They say you can’t fix stupid, maybe they are right.
So do I think the Country is going to hell in a hand basket? No, not yet. We are blessed to live in the greatest country in the history of the world. Our economy is the biggest and provides the best standard of living to the most people of any in the world. It will take a lot to wreck it. It can be wrecked, and if we don’t eventually change course we will ruin it.
I feel most sad now for the people who are already struggling, who can’t find good work…whose homes and businesses are sinking. The country has just chosen to make it much more difficult to fix our problems. There is going to be a lot more pain before things get really better. It didn’t need to be this way but if you are willing to be lied to and still want to believe in Santa Claus, then you get the government you deserve.
What will turn this around? When it becomes more inconvenient to continue believing the lies and in the free lunch that Government Santa is supposed to bring.
The Soviet Union and the former Eastern European Block (not to mention innumerable banana republics) went through this already and died. They sought to redistribute income and only redistributed poverty. Santa really is make believe. Their demise was prolonged and delayed through brute force, but they eventually collapsed. Much of Europe is going through this now; but they are merely socialistic, not communistic so it will take longer to unfold. It is only a question of degree. We are perhaps a generation behind them, so we have more time. But our time will come if we stay on this course. If it does, I trust in the basic goodness and resilience of the people of this great country to get back on track. It won’t be pretty, but I believe we will make it. I believe we will still remain the greatest country in the history of the world and the greatest hope for mankind.
This is a great country, and that is no lie.
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