The truth is…

How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving. Yeah, it’s an old joke… but it’s accurate.

Here we are, seventeen months away from the next presidential election and I’m sick of it all. Maybe disgusted is a better word. Or frustrated.

I’m old enough to remember when these campaigns generally lasted about a year and a half. That was before the internet and 24-hour cable “news” and satellite radio. Now, with all these different sources offering political chatter, the campaigns never really end. You could see it in 2012 when, as soon as the Republicans nominated Mitt Romney, the rest of the crowd was jockeying for the best spots on the TV talk shows so they could keep their names circulating for 2016. You could see it in early 2011, when Secretary of State Clinton let it be known that she wasn’t interested in continuing in that post during a second Obama term, with the unspoken but very clear message that she would be making another run for the White House.

So, yes, I get weary sometimes with politics. And yet, here I am writing on that subject. One of these days, I’ll submit a column on a completely different topic… just to see if you’re paying attention.

But back to the campaign trail.

Since we’ve got no choice but to be flooded with political blather on a daily basis — except for the occasional breaking news from the Kardashians — I thought I’d offer a few thoughts on some of the most common themes and buzzwords we should expect to hear from the candidates and the commentators.

Let’s start with “small government”. Dedicated readers will recall that I touched on this phrase in a column last July. (You can find it and a host of others archived on my blog; follow this link to read it.) Feel free to ho-hum any candidate who trumpets that he wants to make the federal government smaller or slash regulatory agencies. They only say that until they get elected, then turn around and realize that they kinda like all the power.

How about “tax and spend”? That line is nearly always used to attack Democrats, but there hasn’t been a politician invented yet who didn’t enjoy taking some of the revenue stream from Americans’ pockets and throwing it at his own pet project. Of course, they try not to make it too obvious lest they be accused of being too much in love with pork… so they’ll call for massive increases in things like defense spending.  

There’s “government overreach”. That’s one from the “small government” category, where the politicians decry some particular regulation or agency and how it needs to be eliminated. Those same officials waste little time inventing other ways the government can be a thorn in your side, like making it harder to vote. Believe me, once a politician is sworn in, the last thing he wants is to make it easier for the public to vote him out.

A similar line is “legislating from the bench,” referring to court rulings in high profile cases. We’re hearing that a lot now, especially with the Supreme Court’s highly anticipated ruling on same-sex marriage. Of course, it depends on the subject. Those who attack a court decision on one matter will expend the same amount of energy applauding another. If you like the ruling, the judges are heroes. If you don’t, you want them impeached.

Here’s one I’d love not to hear: “So-and-so is coming to take your guns!” Let’s be honest: more Americans own more guns now than ever before. If any politician was really trying to disarm you, clearly they’ve been going about it all wrong.

That one dovetails nicely with the one you hear about how someone has a “secret plan”. While that one is often used by Second Amendment profiteers, we also hear about hidden schemes to build internment camps, force us to switch religions, and take away our retirement. One thing that bugs me: if the people spreading these claims know all about these “secret plans”, they’re not all that secret, are they?

(By the way… that one about the plan to take our retirement? That one is real… at least, for anyone who is counting on a pension for their golden years. But that’s a topic for a later column.)

I could go on… but you get the point. Honesty takes a back seat when it’s time to run for office.  

There I go again… acting all cynical. That’s a common theme in my writings on these pages and on my blog. Trust me, I’m not always a Downer. But when you’re a realist, it’s hard to see many silver linings in the political cloud cover.

(Originally published in the Morrisons Cove Herald on June 4, 2015.)

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