By: Ariela ’13
I consider myself an intelligent, informed citizen.
Or at least I did, until I started writing this column. Upon researching, I came across Factcheck.org, a site that exposes pages and pages worth of facts and statistics advertised in this election that have been grossly exaggerated by our POTUS (President Of The United States) and our political candidates. This stretching of the truth covers both sides of the political spectrum, from Romney’s declaration that he cut spending as Massachusetts Governor (the opposite is correct), to Obama’s statement that under his first term as President, the US doubled exports (this is a goal and has not yet actually been fulfilled). The fact that statistics are just being made and up and touted around like this is jarring. Not only do I now feel that everything I have ever learned is a lie, but to be completely honest, I now feel both ashamed and scared beyond belief for the fate of our country.
If politicians lie to us, it is not only misleading but plays into the unflattering stereotype of American stupidity. Politicians like Representative Todd Akin (R-Mo.) think they can fly factually incorrect and offensive concepts such as “legitimate rape” under the radar because they assume that we are sheep, that we will either swallow veiled lies as truth or be too lazy to protest. This trend resembles totalitarianism a little too much for comfort. Politicians assume that we don’t listen critically, that we consume the media around us without thought. By not thinking critically about the information and facts we are given, we prove these politicians correct.
For me, truth trumps good speaking skills and big words because I want my relationship with the people who make decisions for and about our country to be based on trust. And the fact that truth is relative to so many politicians terrifies and offends me. If candidates continue to abuse their influence and if we continue to blindly believe them, we are setting ourselves up for an Orwellian nightmare. If our sense of truth is controlled not by facts but instead by what our government professes is true, then our own trust can be used against us to support illegitimate policy or ideas.
So I guess it comes down to this: would we rather have lies packaged in grand metaphors and glossy mailers, or would we rather be informed about the problems that we and our country face? We can internalize these lies all we want, but if we pile lie upon lie upon lie, there will come a point when we realize that we no longer have any inkling of what we are truly voting for or talking about, and neither will any of the people around us. If we don’t actually know what our votes mean than our votes lose all meaning; our input becomes part of a senseless popularity contest with no real political relevance or power.