Opinion | Morgan Liddick: ‘Their mouths are moving’ isn’t just a political punchline
On Your Right
“I have nothing to offer but blood, tears, toil and sweat.”
Winston Churchill’s first speech to Commons as Prime Minister, May 13, 1940.
“I’ll fight to expand Pell Grants and student loans…”
6th Congressional District candidate Andrew Romanoff, August 20, 2014.
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These quotations measure the decline of modern politics’ respect for truth. The first was a call to arms for a country standing nearly alone against the foremost military power on Earth. Chamberlain’s government had fallen two days previously; Nazi armies had attacked Belgium and Holland and as Churchill spoke, German panzer divisions crossed the river Meuse. A week later, they would be at the English Channel. England was in dire straits, and the English people realized it, so they welcomed Churchill and his dire message. At long last, a politician had told them the truth, grim though it was.
The second statement comes from a Romanoff campaign ad promising his potential constituents free stuff. Yes, Pell Grants are grants, not loans: no repayment required. But someone has to pay the bill; guess who?
Why do people dislike politicians? Because they recognize America’s political class will say anything to cling to power. They have become so accustomed to prevarication that many of them couldn’t recognize fact if it stood up and gob-smacked them with a two-by-four. But they think that’s OK, because average citizens are so foolish they’ll fall for anything.
Take Mr. Romanoff’s promise. Since government cannot distribute a dime until it is either collected or borrowed from someone who makes it, what he promises is to take money — perhaps from the billionaires he sees behind his opponent — or borrow it, perhaps from China, incurring a debt to be paid by those who he purports to help. But he thinks it’s effective to cry “Free Stuff!” and hope that no one connects the dots.
A more blatant fib appears in recent television advertisements partially financed by the Democratic Governors’ Association: that Bob Beauprez enriched himself at public expense through legislation and — more serious — lying about the financial condition of a bank he sold. This was so nauseatingly wrong that even Denver television channels characterized the claims as “false,” “grossly misleading,” “purposefully deceptive” and “nonsensical.” When even the knee-jerk Liberal press can’t stomach the lie, that’s bad. And that’s not all.
Amendment 68? Sorry, there’s no language promising school funding at any level. Jefferson County? The rave’s not about a school board doing its constitutionally-mandated curriculum review. The cat was let out of the bag by union stooges howling for a recall on Friday last.
In Washington it’s only thicker and deeper. The president insists the economy’s improving, but a substantial majority of Americans don’t agree. He points to a declining unemployment rate, they experience a workforce-participation rate that is stagnant at nearly the lowest level in 30 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, if everyone who had simply stopped looking for work were added back, the unemployment rate would be 11.8 percent. Wages are stagnant, productivity gains are slowing, major trading partners’ economies are looking sketchy — and Americans know it. Never mind, says the president. Prosperity is just around the corner.
Our Ebola obsession is instructive. A week ago the chance of Ebola “reaching our shores is extremely unlikely,” said the president. He’s no longer talking, but the director of the Centers for Disease Control says “We can hold the line on Ebola.” Possibly because our health care system is, in the president’s words, “… staffed with world-class professionals and ready to respond …” Whereas in the 2012 presidential debates, it was a system in which “… kids can’t see a doctor when they’re sick …” But that was okay, because reform was coming that would make your insurance policy (which you could keep if you wanted it) cheaper. Oh, and you could keep your doctor, too.
Here’s a radical suggestion to those committing politics for a living: stop lying. We know you think your opponent is the Spawn of Satan; we get it. Start telling the truth instead, especially about your plans and how you intend to accomplish them.
If you embrace social engineering and substitute propagandizing for what remains of education, say so and explain why this would be better for country and citizen — in the teeth of history’s ample evidence to the contrary. Maybe you really are smarter, this time.
If you think government should shrink to what it was in 1928, say so, and tell us how this would make our lives healthier, safer, richer. While you’re at it, tells us what you think will happen when we concede our advantages in pure research to the Chinese.
Let the people to decide for themselves on the basis of accurate information, honestly given. Take Winston Churchill’s road, not the DGA’s.
Trust us. We can do it.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column.
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