Commentary

When politicians use lies to undermine the rule of law, freedom and democracy

August 22, 2022 5:45 am

Spewing lies, distortions, conspiracy theories and baseless claims is becoming the norm for many who are seeking to lead us, and they are attracting large contingents of supporters (photo by Albina Gavrilovic/iStock Images).

There is a common belief that all politicians lie to some extent. There is also a school of thought that withholding or modifying the truth, given a particular circumstance, might be the better option or the most expedient thing to do.

However, today, too many politicians are taking it to a new level.

Spewing lies, distortions, conspiracy theories and baseless claims is becoming the norm for many who are seeking to lead us, and they are attracting large contingents of supporters.

This multi-faceted and dangerous trend has taken root and escalated with the perpetuation of the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.

As bad as the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was as a result of the Big Lie, more and more it appears it was just the tip of deeper political unrest and festering mistrust of the current governmental system.

That unrest and mistrust have become weaponized with those baseless claims, conspiracy theories and lies. Many aspiring candidates seeking different state and federal offices are using a combination of these tactics to get elected.

What good can be expected when politicians choose lies over truth to the detriment of the Republic?

We have grave reasons to be very concerned with the increasing irrational behavior from some of our elected officials with the loudest bullhorns.

Did you ever think you would hear Congressional leaders calling to defund the FBI or impeach the Attorney General as they carried out their authorized duties in accordance with the rule of law?

Such recklessness has been clarion calls to those who are willing to pick up guns and bombs and try to harm FBI agents. Other law enforcement officers, e.g., judges, are also put at risk.

Where is the respect and support for law enforcement agencies and those responsible for upholding the very laws that protect us?

As a nation that supposedly value the rule of law, are we increasingly becoming more tolerant of lawlessness?

How can such irresponsible behavior from those in public leadership positions be acceptable?

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Look at some of the other detrimental things that have happened since the weaponization of the stolen 2020 election lie.

More voter suppression laws have been adopted in many states, and the efforts to make it more difficult for legal citizens to participate in our democracy continue.

Many election deniers are seeking key offices in states that often determine the outcome of close presidential elections. Many are in good positions to win because a majority of Republicans believe that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

What does that mean for the results of future elections?

In addition to the violent insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, domestic political violence is on the rise. Many current office holders who are trying to uphold the rule of law are receiving threats, requiring law enforcement protection for themselves and family members.

What’s worse, politicians that peddle in lies, false narratives and conspiracy theories only encourage and give license to others to do the same — provoking disinformation and fueling political instability and unrest.

Without the rule of law, there is no freedom. Without freedom, there is no democracy.

What are we, the people, to do?

First, we need to decide whether loyalty to a person or party should be maintained when it has been clearly demonstrated that there is no respect for truth or the rule of law, and when there is no sense of honor and patriotism for this country, its institutions and its democratic form of government.

We need to determine how long we will tolerate someone who assumes we have no integrity, that we accept lies and misrepresentation of facts and truths or that we have no moral character.

We must decide how long will we allow others to think and treat us as if we are stupid or gullible.

Unfortunately, the majority of the public does not have a front row seat to witness an event or have direct access to all available information needed about an issue or incident.

But there are things we can do to be better informed, and not so easily misled.

We can make a concerted effort to seek out multiple news sources and talk shows — not just the ones we like or agree with. Read multiple print and online publications for accurate information.

SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.

There are proven and reliable news sources at the national level and local level dedicated to keeping the public informed. No doubt, there are very trustworthy news sources where you live. Consult them.

Recognize social media platforms for what they are. Social, often promoting personal agendas, whether based in truth or not.

Perhaps the greatest thing we can do is to take seriously what elected officials say and do. They tell us and show us who they are, what they are about, and on whose behalf and interest they are working.

What are the words and actions of elected officials, or those seeking support, telling you?

What good can be expected when politicians choose lies over truth?

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Janice Ellis
Janice Ellis

Janice Ellis has lived and worked in Missouri for more than three decades, analyzing educational, political, social and economic issues across race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status. Her commentary has appeared in The Kansas City Star, community newspapers, on radio and now online. She is the author of two award-winning books: From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream (2018) and Shaping Public Opinion: How Real Advocacy Journalism™ Should be Practiced (2021). Ellis holds a Ph.D. in communication arts, and two Master of Arts degrees, one in communications arts and a second in political science, all from the University of Wisconsin.

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