Growing up, our parents told us not to lie.
Lying is the subject of the eighth of the 10 commandments of the Christian faith that so many politicians adopt.
The commandment is “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”, or in plain language, lie about your neighbor or anyone else.
Today, many have forgotten that lying is a sin or, at the very least, morally reprehensible. Instead, it’s banal.
When I “retired” from covering the State House six years ago, a young reporter asked me what had been the biggest change since 1990, when I was first there.
I said “people didn’t lie to you then. They may not have told you the whole truth, but they didn’t lie like they do now. This political season is an example of extreme truth drift.
Today, the problem is compounded by social media, which repeats and amplifies the lie so that many unsuspecting readers or listeners take the lie as fact and this fuels the fires of division between us.
One of the most outrageous media giants with a big problem with the truth discovered this week that lying has a price.
In the case of Alex Jones, the price is over $1 billion when all the lawsuits against him are settled.
As you know, he made millions, if not billions of dollars from the lie he promoted that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax and staged by actors.
The shooting by a 20-year-old killed 20 students and six staff at the Connecticut school in 2012.
The lie was bad enough, but the effects on the families of the victims and the harassment some suffered were devastating.
After Connecticut’s verdict for just under $1 billion, New York comedian Andy Borowitz wrote that FOX News host Tucker Carlson said the billion-dollar verdict would have a “chilling effect on lying” and “was nothing more or less than a direct attack on the lying way of life.
Although done with humor, it shows how entrenched the “liar way of life” is in American culture today.
While Jones admitted in court that the shooting took place, he attempted to turn the proceedings into a sideshow and advertisement for his business.
Jones later said he was confident the Texas and Connecticut verdicts would be overturned on appeal and said he only had two homes and a few million dollars in the bank.
He claimed he and his company were bankrupt and could not pay the penalties, but legal proceedings will determine if this is true.
Lying about a candidate’s record or position in politics has been going on for some time.
From Edmund Muskie’s speech in the snow outside the former Union leader’s office on Amherst Street and US Senator Bob Dole’s shoutout to then-Vice President George HW Bush at Manchester Airport for that he “stop lying about my file”, to today with former general Don Bolduc claims that incumbent US Senator Maggie Hassan is lying about her support for a national ban on abortion and the candidate of the 1st GOP congressional district Karoline Leavitt, a former Trump White House aide, makes similar statements about incumbent U.S. Representative Chris Pappas on the abortion issue.
As with many politicians, once the primary election is over, the winners want to get a little closer to the middle to attract more voters, so they change their position and claim that their opponent is lying about their position.
Bolduc, as the lead candidate, was an election denier saying the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, but he has now repeatedly changed his position.
It’s not just the federal races; the state governor’s race also has its share of lies and records now downplayed and reinvented.
If you listened to Governor Chris Sununu for example, you would believe he has done an incredible job leading the state to produce hundreds of millions of dollars in surplus revenue.
The revenue surplus is there, but most other states across the country are also experiencing large revenue surpluses, some in the billions of dollars generated by fueling federal money to help mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic.
The silver has boosted the economy, boosted corporate profits and pushed inflation back into the national lexicon.
And this is true around the world, as increased demand for goods and services has driven up prices as well as supply chain issues.
But that’s not what political campaigns want you to hear when leaders can be demonized.
Finding the truth on the campaign trail is a full-time job that most voters don’t have time for, and candidates and their campaigns know it.
The amplified rhetoric of social media makes it even more difficult. Today, anyone can find opinions, conspiracy theories and “facts” they agree with on social media.
The biggest danger today, however, is the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen and won over a majority of Republicans and enough countries to put democracy in jeopardy.
Not everyone is watching the January 6 Committee hearings, but they should because they painted a picture with nearly every Republican witness of what lies do to our government, our society, our culture, and our security.
Former President Donald Trump broke many laws while he was president and after leaving office.
He was not alone as his facilitators and entourage did the same and no one has yet been held accountable.
The go-anywhere environment didn’t start with the 2020 election, it started four years before.
Michael Lewis’ book “The Fifth Risk” deals with the transition between the Obama and Trump administrations through the eyes of long-serving, high-level, nonpartisan employees who take pride in the work of their agencies.
The Trump administration wasn’t interested in what the federal agencies were doing, but was interested in how to use the agencies to their advantage and, frankly, corrupt their missions – like installing the CEO of AccuWeather at the head of NASA, which includes the National Weather Service.
The change in leadership was not about continuing the work of government, but about power.
Trying to stay in power is what prompted Trump to try to cancel the election, which he knew he had lost but refused to say publicly.
Therefore, for the first time in US history, there was no peaceful transition between administrations.
The big lie continues to rule much of the country’s politics with the 2022 election just two weeks away. Election laws have been changed, Holocaust deniers are showing up at offices deciding election results, and bullies are waiting at the polls.
Democracy does not survive on its own. Democracy is government by majority rule, but that is being turned upside down and people need to realize that this great experiment in self-rule may be coming to an end.