Opinion: Lying continues to distort today’s politics
The problem is compounded with social media, which repeats and amplifies the lie
Growing up, our parents told us not to lie. Lying is the subject of the eighth of the 10 commandments in the Christian faith we hear so many politicians espousing. The commandment is “thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” or in plain English, lie about your neighbor or anyone else.
Today, many have forgotten it is a sin to lie or at the very least morally wrong. Instead, it is commonplace.
The problem is compounded with social media, which repeats and amplifies the lie, so that many non-discerning readers or listeners take the lie to be fact and that fuels the fires of division among us.
One of the most outrageous of the media giants who has a significant problem with the truth found out this week that lying has its price. In the case of Alex Jones, the price is more than $1 billion. As you know, he made millions, if not billions, of dollars on the lie he promoted that the Sandy Hook mass shooting was a hoax and staged by actors.
The lie was bad enough, but the effects on the victims’ families and the harassment some suffered were devastating.
After the Connecticut verdict for just short of $1 billion, New Yorker humorist Andy Borowitz wrote that Fox News host Tucker Carlson said the billion-dollar verdict would have a “chilling effect on lying” and “was no more and no less than a direct attack on the lying lifestyle.”
While done in humor, it is indicative of how embedded the “lying lifestyle” is in American culture today.
Jones said later he was convinced the Texas and Connecticut verdicts would be overturned on appeal and said he only had two houses and a couple of million dollars in the bank. He has claimed he and his company are bankrupt and cannot pay the penalties, but legal proceedings will determine if that 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 Union Leader’s old Amherst Street office and U.S. Sen. Bob Dole’s shoutout to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush at the Manchester airport to “stop lying about my record,” to today, with former General Don Bolduc’s claiming that incum bent U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan is lying about his support for a nationwide abortion ban and GOP 1st Congressional District candidate Karoline Leavitt, a former Trump White House aide, making similar claims about incumbent U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas on the abortion issue.
As with many politicians, once the primary election is over, the winners want to move a little closer to the middle to appeal to more voters, so they change their positions and claim their opponent is lying about their position. Bolduc, as a primary candidate, was an election denier saying the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, but now has changed his stance several times.
The state’s governor’s race has its share of lies as well and records now downplayed and reinvented.
If you listened to Gov. Chris Sununu, for example, you would believe he has done an amazing job running the state to produce hundreds of millions of dollars in surplus revenue.
The surplus revenue is there, but most other states in the country are also experiencing large revenue surpluses, some in the billions of dollars, brought on by the fuel of federal money to help damp down the economic effects of the pandemic.
Finding the truth during campaign season is a full-time job that most voters do not have the time to take on, and candidates and their campaigns know it.
The biggest danger today, however, is the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen and has convinced a majority of Republicans and enough of the country to put democracy in peril. Not everyone is watching the Jan. 6 committee hearings, but they should, because they have painted a picture with nearly all Republican witnesses of what lies do to our government, our society, our culture and our safety.
Donald Trump broke many laws when he was president and after he left office. His enablers and inner circle did the same, and no one has yet been held accountable.
The Big Lie continues to drive much of the country’s politics. Voting laws have been changed, election deniers are running for offices that decide election results, and intimidators are waiting at the polls.
Democracy does not survive on its own. It is being upended, and people need to realize this great experiment of self-rule may end.
Garry Rayno is State House bureau chief for InDepthNH.org, which is where this article originally appeared.