Truth Or Consequences

Everything I read today, people are discussing the role of truth in our democracy. This is in reaction to the Republican convention. It has been just such a shocking experience to see this unfolding. It is a jolt to see such dishonesty for a week, with such national prominence. (The vitriol is a topic for another piece – but let me mention that Miller challenging Matthews to a duel means he is saying he wants to kill him.)

Kerry has proposed $2 trillion in new spending? Kerry would ask the UN’s permission before defending the country? Kerry wants to raise taxes? Kerry was against supplying the troops with weapons and even body armor? (My personal favorite was seeing Rove say to Blitzer that it had never occurred to him that the podium looked like a church pulpit!) One lie after another after another in a constant stream that battered our sense of reality.

The magnitude of it makes it difficult to step back and take this in. Has anything like this happened in America before? Have there ever been such blatant falsehoods projected to the public — from the very top — day after day, with no shame whatsoever? This is beyond even the lead-up to the Iraq war. This is just all-out, no apologies lying, by everyone involved, in front of and with the approval of millions. The press doesn’t really stand up and challenge it — no one in positions of authority does. People in positions of authority recognize now that they will lose their authority if they question what is happening. This is intimidation reinforcing the lying. (As with the lying, what will be the ripple effects of such widespread intimidation?)

Does truth matter? Does honesty matter? Are there consequences for lying? Or does the biggest lie achieve the biggest reward?

It kept me up last night. I couldn’t sleep, wondering what it would mean if Bush can win this election with a campaign that is entirely lies. Worrying. Fearful. What effect must this have on the country and the long-term viability of our democracy? How can we survive this poisoning of our spirit and civility?

I believe it necessarily harms a person to lie, or to be associated with lies. It’s like stealing. You lose yourself. What does it profit you to gain the whole world if you lose yourself? Are we watching as we lose everything?