Two reasons the general public doesn’t abhor lying

I bring this up because I’m greedy. I’m not intellectually satisfied by Romney’s narrowly losing the election. 48 percent of Americans who voted this cycle chose Romney, and given what a moral-ethical cripple he proved himself to be — not only during his wreck of a campaign but well before it even started — I find this appalling. One may plausibly argue that President Obama didn’t do a bang-up job, even allowing for the unusual level of adversity and contempt he faced when he took office in 2009, but no one can sensibly argue that he is in the same solar system as the Romney-Ryan thermonuclear bullshit plant.

I understand and accept that a lot of people will simply pull the lever for the candidate representing their political party of choice without looking any deeper, but even allowing for such a crass and superficial approach to civic proceedings, it is undeniable that anyone who voted for Mitt Romney, especially given his ramshackle choice of a running mate, simply does not care how freely and unabashedly Romney prevaricates. That, or they don’t notice or don’t believe it, which from the standpoint of fitness for voting is just as bad.

Most parents, even those who exhibit a variety of non-nurturing behaviors (excessive drinking or drugging, physical or other abuse, neglect), instill the idea in their kids that lying is wrong. Even parents who consciously tell lies don’t typically want their kids to lie, at least not to them and presumably in general. So Americans can be said to value honesty at some level. Even fundamentalist Christians who spout arrant bullshit about the afterlife and the universe in general aren’t lying; they’re merely wrong.

So why do we put up with it from our own leaders and potential leaders? Do we simply overlook it, or is there some kind of compromise at work? I see two basic reasons:

1. We’re used to it.
2. Most of us do it ourselves to some extent, from “white lies” to fifth-degree whoppers.

Think about what most of us face in the course of a normal day that involves interacting with society at any level. I was in a Starbucks this morning and needing just an aliquot of caffeine, so I ordered a small coffee. Of course, the proper name in these establishments is a tall coffee. What? It’s the smallest damned size you can purchase. I don’t think of Herve Villechaise or Danny DeVito as tall. This flagrant and unapologetic sin against the honest use of language pervades all of marketing, not just in America but certainly to a wild degree here.

Also, consider what would happen if your e-mail client lacked an effective spam filter. 95 percent of your inbox would consist of lies — fibs about products and services to make your dick bigger, your bank account richer, your ass less wide, your mortgage payment lower, your nights less lonely. We may not but into this shit, but we become inured to its presence and accept these dishonest claims as part of everyday culture.

I could produce a slew of similar examples, but I’ll move on to #2 up there instead. When we see someone like Romney lie about something serious such as the economy or Ryan dissemble about his fastest marathon time, we — with rare exceptions, I contend — feel a sort of unwelcome twinge, because we can relate to these guys. I can think of many times in my adult, knowing-better life that I have been dishonest and justified it in some way; I was saving my ass or protecting someone, and I could find no genuine downside or harm in my dishonesty. Granted, most of these have been lies of omission rather than lies of commission of the sort politicians are wont to excrete. But although I can’t stand the idea of either Romney or Ryan holding public office, I can only climb about nine-tenths of the way to the top of my personal high horse when it comes to certain judgments. Mix that ethos in with support for conservative ideas and tenets and a solid dose of Jesus (in whatever form) and it’s plain, if not excusable, why people support candidates for high office who are utterly, unpretentiously, loudly, and often moronically dishonest.

Seriously. I’m not making any of this up.


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