BY ALEX COLUMBIA, JAKE LYONS, RYAN SCAFURI
Have you ever heard something so blatantly false, you couldn’t help but tell that person just how wrong they were? Now imagine hearing that on your TV everyday, only the one lying is the leader of the free world. Sadly you don’t have to imagine;, just keep a keen eye on American politics recently. This shameful practice begs the question: why can some of the most powerful men and women on earth mislead the public with no punishment?
According to The Washington Post, President Donald Trump has accumulated a staggering amount of false claims. One such outrageous claim was in reference to wind turbines, claiming that “when the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric.” This is not even remotely true because when there is no wind for the turbines power stations still keep the electricity running. For a person at such a high political position, how can he get away with these maddening claims?
Politifact, a Pulitzer prize winning fact checking website composed of many esteemed political pundits, has checked statements made from Trump since the beginning of his presidency. The amount of statements deemed “pants on fire”, or claims that are so false they are reckless and aren’t rooted in reality, is at a total of 15% of his claims.
Cases of politicians lying are not new and have been almost normalized throughout the years. In 1894, Robert Augustus Chesebrough and George Brinton McClellan Jr. were locked in a tight election for New York’s 12th district. According to The Conversation, despite McClellan losing ground in the election, he devised a plan to sabotage his opponent by lying, detailing how Chesebrough “had opposed allowing bicycles and tricycles to use the streets and paths of Central Park.” This lie helped turn the election into a debate about infrastructure for bicycles. For Chesbrough, any damage control he attempted was futile, and a lie helped turn the entire tide of an election
Some might argue that “all politicians have lied.” Yes, and that’s the point. Why are we just okay with that? Why have we come to expect the people that we vote for will lie to us blatantly? The punishments should be bipartisan, and the importance of truth needs to be put back in politics.
Rarely are there repercussions for politicians caught continuously lying. One way of deterring politicians from lying is to reprimand them with clear punishments, up to and including, conceding an election in order to ensure that lying in politics is at the very least decreased.
To be clear, we understand that all politicians lie. It’s as much of a guarantee as death and taxes in life. Republicans and Democrats both lie, regardless of the topic or if you agree with them. We are concerned that this acceptance of fallacies and lies will become so mainstream that we will not only talk of fake issues, but enact fake policy that will have all too real repercussions.