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Dishonesty Pays for Politicians

People have voted for political candidates who didn’t tell the truth for as long as there have been elections. But what ought to scare thoughtful Americans now is that for the first time of which I’m aware, many supporters of some candidates seem willing to admit they don’t care if their favorites are lying.

A fellow in the office related a conversation he’d had with a strong supporter of Republican Donald Trump. When my co-worker pointed out Trump had made a certain comment that was demonstrably false, the other man responded, “I don’t care.”

Good heavens. Has partisanship come to that??Are some people eager – not just willing – to support liars for public office? Would Lincoln, running today, tell advisers to ditch the “Honest Abe” label because it might be a liability?

This isn’t just stupid. It’s dangerous.

Trump himself sees the phenomenon so clearly that when he’s caught in a falsehood, he refuses to retract it.

Just a few days ago, Trump told a crowd in Alabama that on Sept. 11, 2001, he “watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering” as the World Trade Center collapsed. He noted that in Jersey City, “you have large Arab populations.”

It just didn’t happen. And while another leading Republican candidate, Ben Carson, admitted after saying something similar that he was mistaken, Trump hasn’t done that.

Even worse, political correctness seems to be dictating that candidates disavow things that are true.

On Tuesday, Democrat presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton pledged to stop using the words, “illegal immigrants.” They were a “poor choice of words” in the past, she explained.

The words also are 100 percent accurate terminology for the millions of people who came into this country illegally and have stayed here illegally. It has nothing to do with how you feel about them or what action you think government should take regarding them. Want them all to be allowed to stay with no penalties? Fine. Want them all kicked out? Fine. We can debate that.

But since when did it become wrong to use accurate, truthful language?

And when did it become wise to praise candidates we know aren’t telling the truth, either through direct lies or the indirect dishonesty of extreme political correctness?

Does no one wonder what else they’re not being candid about?

  • ??

My first encounter with Waneta Acker, many years ago, was when she called to tell me something I’d written was absolute, irresponsible nonsense. At the time, I was thankful our encounter was by telephone. Waneta could be just a bit intimidating.

When she passed away this week, at the age of 95, our community on both sides of the river suffered an irreplaceable loss. Waneta did an enormous amount of good for people, families and worthy causes in our area. She was constantly volunteering her tremendous energy, ability and tenacity.

But this is a column about politics, and it was in that context she and I interacted most. A committed, effective Democrat, Waneta and I probably agreed on little about public policy and elections.

She was an old-style, grassroots supporter of her party – but more important, I think, of getting involved. What she believed in, she was willing to fight for – effectively. Local party officials recognized that, naming her Ohio County Democrat of the Year in 1990 and 2003.

As we got to know each other, Waneta and I became friends who agreed to disagree about politics.

I hope she knew how much I respected her. During an era in which too many people don’t take the time to become informed on the issues, much less try to shape public policy, she stood out for her dedication, hard work, compassion and skill. We Americans would be better off with more people like her because – and people who know me will tell you this may be the highest accolade I can bestow – she was a fighter.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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