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Don’t romanticize political “honesty”

Disrespectful and inaccurate political speeches aren’t commendable in their truth, they’re just thoughtless

Image Credits: Reslus

In the rank ocean of Donald Trump-related editorials out there, one headline that really popped for me was “Are people who hate Trump just snobs?” Maybe it would be more accurate to say I felt my eyeballs popping out of my face like the worst case of crazy-eyes you’ve ever seen.

Basically, the article claims that people “judge [Trump] for what he says, and how he says it, and not for what he does.” Apparently, we are “blinded” by his complete lack of education about world history and inability to articulate himself competently — blinded to some kind of secret apex of accomplishment on his part.

His critics are “snobs” for calling him out on this stuff, while his myriad mistakes actually just humanize him and showcase his honesty, which is something other politicians don’t have going for them. People are happy that he’s “shaking things up.”

There were certainly fair points in this reasoning, for sure. I’m sure we all wish political figures would be more open and truthful with us, for instance, and Trump has done nothing if not make some people shake in their boots at the sad idea of the next few years.

But I’m floored. First of all, the first 100 days of a Trump administration have clearly shown that “what Trump does” is also a questionable domain: among other things, we saw a hastily slapped-together tax reform plan that, unsurprisingly, mostly benefits rich people; multiple members of the Trump government fired incredibly early into their campaigns; and baseless accusations that former president Barack Obama had been wiretapping him. Yet there’s another issue here, a toxin that invades politics as a sphere.

Is “honesty” so important to us average citizens that we’re willing to ignore what that honesty shows us?

You can admire someone’s brusque and aggressive demeanour for its sincerity, and accept that as your truth. But if you do that, then you have a responsibility to recognize the unfortunate traits which that sincerity reveals.

I’ll step away from the cases of obviously racist and bigoted political discourse for a moment, mostly because, unfortunately, many of his supporters not only recognize, but embrace those qualities of his, along with his own ability to flaunt them on television like a fat diamond ring without real repercussion.

But to claim that we can’t judge our potential governors and leaders for how they talk: um, yes, we totally can.

I don’t mean that in reference to swear words, or being casual with your language: that’s something worth defending, and I’m hardly one to criticize others about that sort of thing. But when one lacks class and respect in their diction, and literally doesn’t know what they’re talking about, it’s a problem.

It’s said that making mistakes is a humanizing trait. But I’m sorry to say that politics, unlike many other fields, is not a casual talk over beer and you do not have the luxury of getting your facts wrong over and over again in a sphere which literally revolves around debate, negotiation, and persuasion.

Doing that repeatedly after being publicly called out and mocked more than once is a demonstration of one thing: you don’t take your position seriously. You don’t take the criticism of your people seriously. And you don’t care enough to apologize or try and be better.

And that, folks, is why politicians need to be calculating and efficient in what they say — it doesn’t mean everything they say is crap, it means they give a shit about the jobs they’re here to do.

Of course, the lack of transparency is a valid problem in politics. But figures like Trump, figures who don’t know how to think before they speak, whom people are willing to accept wholeheartedly simply for being honest — they’re the consequence of a bad system, not our liberators from it.

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