Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Primary Objection

This weekend the Eau Claire Leader Telegram featured a neatly columned comparison of the Republican Candidate’s positions on several issues of current interest, at least to the media. As a good citizen, I think I’m supposed to read the report and compare the candidates to each other before voting today.

I have two general problems with giving up my time to read that page of opinions (the politicians call them “positions”).

1) Often the “issues” are framed in a manner that allows the candidate to say no more than a sound-bite in response. For example: Question: How would you balance the budget? Answer: By cutting out wasteful spending from a bloated budget designed to sustain a wasteful Federal bureaucracy led by the “worst President in the history of the nation”.

2) The candidates’ responses seldom represent their real beliefs regarding the issues; a fact made obvious when one compares the positions they have taken on the issues in the past, revealed both in their words and their deeds, with what they say they believe now.

Honesty requires me to reveal that, even if all the candidates answered fully and informatively and if their answers reflected their real beliefs I would not be casting my vote for any of the current Republican primary candidates. I have fundamental differences of opinion with all of them on many issues. But I would not, in that case, be baffled at the amount of support that the candidates receive from people who otherwise claim to value truthfulness. And if honest and truthful candidates win over my opposition I can accept them as legitimate representatives of the will of the people, the majority of whom do support them.

But my primary objection to the current slate of Republican primary candidates (the pun is intended since this will post on primary day in Wisconsin) is the unprincipled practice employed by all of them.  Rather than attempt to persuade the voters of the wisdom of their position, they try to portray their closest rival in the darkest, most sinister light imaginable. Their cynicism is on daily display in the their stump speeches but is epitomized in the ubiquitous attack ads they run (or allow to be run on their behalf).

I’ll not single out any particular candidate or the ads they are sponsoring through their shadowy SuperPacs, or running out of their campaign offices. Readers can fill in the blank from their own knowledge, gleaned from multiple ads running during the evening news. But the pattern is consistent and consistently makes one want to barf. A string of accusations of mis-conduct, or inconsistent behaviors, or anti-American, anti-Christian, immoral behaviors is alleged to represent the record of the candidate being attacked. Often the candidate whose organization is sponsoring the ad is heard to say, “I’m (fill-in-the-blank), and I approve this ad.

Well, I don’t! I approve of truthful information but not even all “truthful information” is relevant to whether one is a “good” or “bad” candidate for a particular office. And truth, in the hands of ad men and politician ceases to be truth as soon as they touch it. By parsing, combining, distorting, rearranging statements made by their opponents, these deceivers turn truth into a lie. Though the sounds were admittedly uttered, they were never intended to convey the meaning that is being put on them in the lying ads.

It makes me want to scream out the words of the ancient prophet, “There are none righteous. No, not one!” How long can a people survive as a free society when they allow themselves to be led by lies?

Today, in Wisconsin’s primary election, hundreds of thousands of votes will be cast for blatant liars, and a good portion of those votes – perhaps a majority – will come from people who claim to be advocates for truth. Many profess to be followers of the One who said of himself, “I am the Truth”. It is inconceivable to me that one who loves truth and claims to serve Truth can vote for a man who devises (or consents to) ads that blatantly lie, and who has the gall to say, “I approve this ad (this set of lies).”

That is my primary objection to what is happening today.

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