Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How, Indeed?

Jon Huntsman dropped out of the Republican circus, otherwise known as the quest to find the Republican candidate for President. He also announced he would support Willard Mitt Romney, thus prompting many to ask, how can he do that after having been attacking Romney for the last few months, saying Romney was a flip-flopper who would not be electable and so on. That is, after bashing Romney rather seriously he suddenly turns around and supports him, seemingly hypocrisy in motion. I suggest there is a perfectly good reason for this - no one pays any attention to such strange reversals because no one believes anything politicians say in the first place. When Huntsman was knocking Romney everyone knew he was basically lying, and now that he supports him it just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter what he says about anything because to the public it is just more noise. How can this be?

I think it is because the American public no longer even expects anyone to tell the truth about anything. Any American alive today has been exposed all of their life to advertising of one form or another, in print, radio, and television. After years of saturation with lies about products no one, with the possible exception of some mentally handicapped individuals, believes there is any truth in advertising. Similarly, over the years the advertising industry has grown and gotten worse than ever. Politics enjoys the same reputation for truth telling. No one believes politicians tell the truth, they know they will make all kinds of promises to get elected with little or no expectation their promises will ever materialize after they are elected. This is not a secret, it is a standard belief on the part of the public. Politicians and used car salesman occupy the same rung on the believability scale. And, as in the case of advertising, this practice of standardized lying in politics has become increasingly worse over time, the level of dishonesty culminating, I believe, during the Bush/Cheney administration. You would be hard pressed indeed to find a single honest statement by anyone during the nightmare years of Bush/Cheney, especially either one of them. Any semblance of truth has also disappeared from our MSM, and in particular, Fox “News.” It has been well established by now that those citizens who know the least about anything are the very same ones that get their “news” from Fox. In fact, it is no longer even a secret that Fox is simply the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. The other major networks have become little more than stenographers, simply repeating the lies they are fed by politicians.

This unfortunate situation is compounded by the fact that the majority of voters don’t really pay attention to begin with, and those that do pay attention know they are not being told the truth, and in either case their attention span is so short they cannot remember what they heard. Thus it is the entire political process has been reduced to just extraneous noise, endless noise, noise that has no other meaning. Candidates can and do say anything they want with no fear it will eventually make any difference, or that they will even be challenged about their lies no matter how obvious and egregious they are. How else, for example, can you explain that Willard Mitt, who has been on two or three sides of every conceivable issue, is now the frontrunner and almost surely the Republican candidate of choice? People are certainly aware of his monumental flip-flopping, they just don’t care, because what he says does not really matter. If he fails to become President it will not be because of his different positions on the same issues, it will be because he doesn’t pay enough in taxes, is too wooden and unreal as a person, doesn’t drink beer, belongs to a cult, or has too perfect hair. People know that flip-flopping is just a matter of telling lies when required to do so by the demands of the moment.

Thanks mainly to our recent experience with Bush/Cheney, truth is no longer something that is considered relevant to politics and is certainly not expected. No one expects to hear the truth, and in the rare instances when someone attempts to tell it, they are ostracized and often lose their jobs. People can no longer even distinguish truth from fiction, they neither believe what they hear or necessarily disbelieve it. They hear it as noise and decide who to vote for on the basis of who makes the most soothing sounds or appears to be the most like themselves. Ironically, probably the one person who is the most constrained from telling the truth is the President. If he told the truth no one would believe it, and he, too, would be ostracized by the Congress, and denied the cooperation he needs to accomplish anything. Truth has disappeared from politics, and it has virtually disappeared from American culture in general. At the rate it is disappearing it may eventually disappear even as a concept, becoming merely an historic curiosity.

The public will believe anything, so long as it is not founded on truth.

Edith Sitwell

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