Demand truth from those we elect
I hate to break the news to you, but most politicians are liars. That’s right: Big, fat, tall-tale-telling, whopper-spewing, deceitful liars. Embedded in the DNA of staunch, lifetime political professionals seems to be an evolutionary skill of deceit, factual manipulation and exaggeration. This is a genetic trait spawned in both Republicans and Democrats.
My definition of a liar is the same as Webster's: "To make an untrue statement with intent to deceive or to create a false or misleading impression."
There is no wiggle room. If you purposely say something you know is inaccurate, you're a liar. Day after day, we all watch our political leaders misrepresent the truth and peddle in hypocrisy, hyperbole, trickery, and fraud.
It doesn't start out that way. City council members, mayors, first selectmen, even state senators and state reps will do their best to stay transparent with the people they represent. However, the higher you go up the political food chain, the more likely you are to become a master at falsification and fiction. It seems that ego and a thirst for power grows exponentially as you climb the political ladder.
I honestly think people when they start out in the political game genuinely do so for all the right reasons. They want to serve and have ideas on positive change. They jump into action after seeing an issue affect a family member, friend, or neighbor. They may tackle some problem in their home town – usually putting their reputation, family sanity and, in many cases, their own personal assets on the line.
Sadly, the Lying Syndrome seems to become an incurable disease – and it's happening in Hartford right now. The promise of no tolls on cars by our new governor was an exercise in lip service. The last time Connecticut elected a governor from Greenwich it was 1990 and Lowell P. Weicker promised that he wouldn't institute an income tax and then — boom! — he poured gasoline on a fire, burning up his promise not to create an income tax in the process.
Governor Ned Lamont just did the same thing. He ran against Republican Bob Stefanowski on the premise that tolls would be for out-of-state trucks only – and he repeated this position all the way through the election. This set him apart from Stefanowski, who opposed tolls, and independent Oz Griebel, who said they were necessary — on all vehicles — to raise money for transportation.
Lamont assured Connecticut drivers that if they elected him they would not face these electronic gantries, only truckers would. It was a factor in helping elect him. Then he released a statement on Saturday saying essentially that tolls for all vehicles are, very much, on the table.
That trucks-only promise, ladies and gentlemen, was a lie.
Hartford is under the constant siege of misrepresentation. But, even at its worst, the insurance capital of the world can't hold a candle to what goes on in Washington. The Federal City is home to the lying champions. Decades of half-truths rain from the top down. There was President George H.W. Bush's "Read my lips” pledge; President Bill Clinton’s, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman"; President Obama’s, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”; and President Trump’s notable campaign pledge, "Mexico is paying for the wall."
The D.C. swamp is real. There is tremendous pressure to bend to your party’s wishes and to political expediency. The taste of power – real power – can cloud the judgment of even the most virtuous.
As Lord Acton so famously noted: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Members of Congress receive $174,000 salaries and yet, in 2015, the median net worth of a U.S. senator was $3.2 million; the average net worth for members of the House of Representatives was $900,000.
We've set up a system where, the longer you stay in Washington, the more power is thrust upon you. Committee chairmanships, campaign money, more television visibility, invitations to the best parties -- they all come by simply playing ball, and shading the truth where necessary. In other words, lying.
It's up to all of us to hold our elected officials responsible for what they do and responsible for what they say. We can no longer accept being lied to and manipulated. Roar for justice and truth from your hometown to Hartford to Washington.
It's time for the sheep to become the lions. Demand truth!
Lee Elci is the morning host for 94.9 News Now radio, a station that provides "Stimulating Talk" with a conservative bent.
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