The word of a politician has seemingly always been synonymous with falsehood. Telling lies and making empty promises while in office, and especially while on the campaign trail have come to be the expected nature of the game. While many of the misleading declarations are rooted in general ignorance and can be brushed off as momentary misunderstandings on their part, a large portion of their comments are deliberate attempts to win favor or save face through blatant deception. Because this practice is so commonplace in a field that doesn’t exactly attract the most upright individuals in the first place, many constituents who participate in the voting process have come to expect a level of distortion in politics that would surely end the career of an individual working in any other professional field. We’ve gotten to the point where we can count on many enticing promises to reform policies or institute others as being comprised in large part of mostly hot air and buzz words. It’s hard to imagine how an apathetic voter base might be culpable in furthering an already unhinged problem, but the election of 2016 provided just this.
We have reached past the point of passive resistance, and decided long ago that holding our elected officials responsible for their premeditated perjury is of little interest to us. And as a result we have only added fuel to the fire. Obviously, this complacency encounters a sharp u-turn when assessing the comments of our chosen party’s rivals, but swapping indifference for hypocrisy is doing nothing to enforce integrity.
One unprecedented outcome of the 2016 election was the actual prevalence of lies coming from both campaigns. According to the fact checking website “Politifact,” Trump and Clinton were not only the most unfavorable candidates to ever run for president, they also hold the record for most false statements made by a presidential candidate on the campaign trail. In the age of the Internet and the ability it provides to quickly research the legitimacy of a claim, 2016 seems like an odd year to increase the fiction level of your platform, but rather an era where one must be especially cautious about the inevitable dissection of your claims. I can only assume that this blatant abuse on their part is a direct reflection of our unfortunate callous attitude towards the entire process. We’ve become a nation not only accustomed to accepting these laughable espousals of grandeur, but one that has developed an insatiable appetite for them.
“Politifact” is a great tool for someone interested in finding out the amount of truth contained in a particular politician’s speech, debate or Tweets, and the knowledge it provides could certainly be used to make more informed voting decisions the next time around. But, before this tool or even personal research, for that matter, can be utilized effectively, the standards of our ever changing society must first be established. Along with the increased prevalence of lying the 2016 election brought, it also created what I feel to be a lower standard for accuracy across the board. This devaluation of honest rhetoric has pushed the public towards an uncertain path of regression with the goal of eventual chaos.
A shift in the status quo is only positive if we are shifting in the right direction. As a country we’ve made clear our disdain for career politicians and their failure to adequately represent us as seen in Congress’ pathetic 16 percent approval rating. But it appears that now our frustrations have only clouded our judgement. In a week of tracking our current president’s statements on all platforms in March, three reporters for the politically centered news outlet “Politico” found that Trump utters one complete falsehood for every five minutes he is speaking. We curiously awarded this type of behavior with the highest office in the land. I feel that this is a direct betrayal of our country’s traditional values, and until we realize that, we will surely have a hard time making America great again.