Archive for Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sorting out the truth in politics

November 7, 2012

Finally, the election is over and, if the legend of Pinocchio were true, there would be a lot of politicians walking around with noses about three feet long.

Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but it seems that when it comes to politics, facts don’t seem to mean very much. Certainly when truth in national or state politics is concerned, we are sliding down a slippery slope.

Frankly, just doing some preliminary checking, you can uncover a variety of half truths, quarter truths and absolutely no truth at all. Politicians love to use “happy” catch phrases such as “family values” or “job creation” or the tried and true “cutting taxes.”

It would seem that it is easier to be against something than for an issue and that’s one of the problems with modern politics. I remember from my debate class in school, it was much easier to be on the negative side. About all you had to do was say it was a bad idea and it would ruin everything if passed. The affirmative had to make a case for change and that is always difficult. No matter what the change is, folks usually fear it and oppose it.

A good example from the dusty archives of history is Social Security. In the beginning, those who opposed it felt it would make Americans less self-reliant and would threaten the very fabric of our democracy. This was certainly true when it came to my late father and father-in-law. My dad simply felt he couldn’t afford the deduction from his check and felt he would never receive any benefit. He died when my sister was 12 and she received survivor benefits until she was 18. No, I was 18 at the time and the law then cut off benefits at that age. Had he lived I’m sure my dad would have changed his mind.

An even better example is my late father-in-law. He told me how angry he was when Social Security was extended to farmers because he couldn’t afford it. However, he admitted he was wrong about Social Security after he started receiving it. It is funny how we change our mind about issues when it benefits our lives.

If you look back at history you’ll discover that as a nation we got all worked up about issues which seem laughable by modern standards. A century ago, one of the big issues was that of regulating business. While business regulation can still be hot topic, no one argues the need for inspection of packing plants and food processing factories.

The list of “once angry issues” is very long. In Kansas, the biggest row was over prohibition. Kansas was a “bone dry” state and a candidate who favored repeal could well be voted out of office.

In all of the examples, people pointed out dire consequences and there was a tremendous amount of name calling. Fifty years down the road, I imagine that most of the hot issues from this election will either be forgotten or accept as part of modern life.

It is unfortunate that most of the billions spent on election advertising couldn’t have been given to charity. Think of the thousands of persons who could have been helped.


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