Hypocrisy makes me crazy, even though it’s nothing new in politics. It can turn a person’s entire career, and even one’s entire life into a lie. It’s deceptive. It’s dishonest. And in politics it’s particularly damaging because it allows a candidate or elected official to say anything to please the constituency. Why? For obtaining or maintaining power over others.
The word’s etymology has much to teach us. It goes all the way back to ancient Greece, where a hypocrites was an actor in a play–a person who spent his time pretending to be someone he wasn’t, all for show, and all for the pleasure of his audience. Sound familiar? Look how hard most politicians work to prevent us from knowing what they really believe. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have one thing in common with that regard: they both start stuttering and tripping over their words when they get on the topics of turbulent political issues. It’s one thing to speak carefully and with consideration for the meaning of one’s words–but speaking with the objective of hiding one’s honest opinion is exactly the opposite of what we need in the political arena.
Here’s a really bodacious idea: politicians should tell us what they really believe. They should tell us their core values and explain how those values inspire them not only in their political lives but in their personal lives as well. Rather than crafting a speech differently for every different audience, and rather than telling constituents the things that are most popular, tell us what truly motivates you. Explain how your opinions as an elected leader will be influenced by your primary values. Practice the politics of honesty. It would be wildly popular. Sure, people will disagree. But I’m willing to bet that they’d be so surprised and delighted with a politician of genuine integrity that it would earn that man or woman a powerful voice in the political system. And the really neat thing is that if a person loses an election because of honesty, that person will still have integrity to take home at the end of the day.
I offer the following analysis for consideration. Many self-professed liberals are delighted by increasing governmental control over what we eat and where we can purchase those items. In 201o President Obama signed into law new powers allowing the USDA to regulate what items are sold in vending machines on school campuses. That same year Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his fellow liberals took aim at salt and trans fats, and now he and his merry band of health enforcers want to forbid the sale of sugary soft drinks in containers that hold more than 16 ounces. In 2011 the City of San Francisco enacted a law forbidding the inclusion of free toys with certain types of meals in an effort to regulate what children eat, though McDonald’s found a way around the law by introducing a charge for the toys.
Controlling the citizenry is a very popular idea among many on the Left in this country–even to the point of federal agencies monitoring vending machines, and city health officials checking on our intake of salt and sugar. And let’s be honest about the fact that it’s force that is being used. Mayor Bloomberg himself stated it this week. “We’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another,” he said, referring to the ban on larger cups containing soft drinks made with sugar. Will beverage sellers comply? Yes, I assure you that they will. And this will be because of the threat of force. It can be terribly expensive and even dangerous to tell the government to go to hell.
With all of this liberal willingness to tell us how to live our lives and control what we’re putting into our mouths for the sake of our health, isn’t it odd that most of those same liberals don’t have the same approach to sexual conduct? Too much sugar and too much salt will kill you, they say, but when it comes to sex they give you a free condom and demand that private insurance provide other forms of free birth control.
Their excuse? “We can’t stop people from having sex,” they insist. Right. I agree. So leave that issue to them, along with the question of birth control. And while you’re at it, leave the question of sugar and salt consumption to them as well. Do we as a society have problems with sugar, salt, trans fats, and obesity? Yes, we do. The cure for the problem resides at the same level as the problem itself: personal responsibility.
In the abortion debate we hear the cry from liberals that the government has no right to tell a woman what to do with her body, yet many of those same liberals support the notion of controlling our bodies when it comes to what we’re eating. Can you see the hypocrisy and inconsistency? It’s so blatant and obvious that I leads me to the conclusion that their actions aren’t based upon any true concern for our health–they are simply a way to pander to supporters, amass power, build egos, and justify excessive bureaucracy.
Perhaps a fitting end to this blog post would be a timely bit of insight from none other than Thomas Jefferson. “I predict future happiness for Americans,” he insisted, “if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” In that quotation I put the italicized emphasis on the word “if.”
It’s a mighty big “if.”