Friday, August 10, 2012

Both Presidential Campaigns are Lying to America, and I'm Sick of It

I’m tired, guys. I’m tired of the lying.

I’m tired of the negative ads, of the scare tactics, of the stupid labels, of the total falsehoods that both sides have been peddling throughout the 2012 presidential campaign.

Here’s the most recent case: Mitt Romney’s newest advertisement alleges that Barack Obama plans to “gut welfare reform” by bypassing legislation that requires welfare recipients to work for their government check. As Politifact said earlier in the week, this is flat-out false. It’s untrue. It got a “Pants on Fire!” rating because it is just wrong.

Obama fired back through press secretary Jay Carney, who retorted that Romney “supported policies that would have eliminated the time requirements in the welfare reform law”. This is also false. Both sides took a tiny ambiguity and leveraged it into a massive, sweeping attack on the opposition. What is that except telling blatant lies?

Where is the outrage over this? In November, we’re going to pick one of these men to lead our country. Through their surrogates, they have both lied to the public, or at the very least massively distorted the facts, in just the last week. What’s the matter with us? Don’t we care?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that Romney didn’t pay income taxes at any time in the last ten years, but refuses to provide any evidence for it. Romney took Obama’s “You didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen” remarks out of context and used them as a talking point. A recent ad by Priorities USA Action, an Obama-aligned Super PAC, tried to smear Romney by blaming a woman’s death on him and Romney retaliated by attacking the Obama campaign for the Super PAC’s misdeeds. Romney has insinuated that recent leaks of classified information were masterminded by the White House for political gain, again without proof. Another Obama ad says that Romney backed a bill eliminating all abortions, including those in cases of rape and incest, when he just did not. Romney gave a speech saying that “sequestration” is Obama’s fault, when the truth is far more complex.

All of these claims are from just the last few weeks. There are plenty of others there, and I encourage readers to look them up through Politifact or elsewhere. These are not fringe figures looking for attention or cable channels trying to boost their ratings. These are some of the most important and influential people in the country who are completely fine with being flat-out wrong. Who is holding them accountable?

The answer, truthfully, is no one. There are plenty of nonpartisan fact-checking organizations, like Politifact or the Washington Post or, and these claims certainly don’t go unnoticed. Every time there’s a new ad or a new intentional error by one of the candidates, the other side goes nuts with online ads and press releases and scathing quotes.

But then the wounded side tells the world they’re in sole possession of the high ground, and their credibility goes flying out the window like a flock of angry ducks. There’s plenty of awareness that our presidential candidates are lying all the time, but there’s no popular awareness that both sides are equally guilty! There are no consequences, political or otherwise, for lying! The other side is doing it, the campaigns say, so why shouldn’t we?

I find this disgusting. I cannot believe that American politics, as an entity, has sunk to this catcalling, mud-slinging, lie-peddling level. And what makes it even more frustrating is that we, the people, are letting them do it. There is no true accountability for either side because we’re apparently just fine with this flood of uncontrolled chicanery all around us.

There’s only one way to make them stop, and it’s the oldest one in the book. Just… say… no. When you’re asked to donate money, tell them you don’t want to support a candidate who plays fast and loose with the truth. When you’re asked to volunteer, tell them the same. When they send out fundraising emails, when your friends try to convince you that one of these guys isn’t as horribly bad at telling the truth as the other, just say no. Maybe if enough people tell Obama and Romney that this is unacceptable and has to stop, they’ll start to change their behavior. Tell them you want to see an honest man in the White House, and maybe—just maybe—we’ll get one.

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Korinthia Klein said...

It's always been like this, ugly and brutal. On some level it's improved because at least overt racism is off the table. We have a Mormon and a biracial man running for the presidency and the adds (spurious or not) are about medicare.

In terms of not donating, the truth is I don't want tp risk the democrats losing this year. I may hate certain ads, but Obama more closely represents my interests than does Romney. By a lot. So certain tactics may not meet my standards, but it's not a deal breaker with me this election. Billionaire donors have more sway anyhow.

Korinthia Klein said...

(Gah, shouldn't type when I'm tired---I know ads has one d.)

C.D. said...

You have to go by who's going to help the most people... Romney pretty clearly does not care about poor people, women, or gays. Obama's not perfect but he's the best we've got right now.

Andy said...

Thanks for the comments, Korinthia and CD. I appreciate the idea of going with the best available option, perfect or no, but negative advertising and constant sparring without real engagement on the issues aren't just campaign tactics... they're signs of how a President Romney, or a second-term President Obama, would govern if he were elected. Imagine if we ended up with a Democratic President and a Republican Congress, or vice versa, after Election Day. Literally nothing would get done beyond the most basic, routine, running-the-country business. Fixing the "fiscal cliff"? Ending "sequestration"? Reforming Medicare? Ending the era of trillion-dollar deficits? Forget about it; it might never happen. At some point, which party has the White House becomes less important then just having somebody who can get government to work the way it's supposed to--fixing the country's biggest problems. I'm not convinced that either Obama or Romney can be that guy, and every flat-out falsehood they peddle makes me less optimistic.

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