The Common Good
September/October 2010

Election Year Blues.

by Ed Spivey Jr. | September/October 2010

Politicians can't help it when they lie.

It has come to our attention that Americans are confused by what they’re hearing from their leaders this election year. This is understandable. Because they’re all lying.

People in the political class are notorious for bearing false witness on a regular basis, even though the Ten Commandments told them not to. To be fair, most politicians have a difficult time adhering to the more-rigorous admonitions in the Bible, although they like the one about tithing 10 percent of their campaign contributions to the beach house fund. (That’s in the Bible, right?)
But they can’t help it when they lie. The truth is hard enough to digest, especially for a white guy in an Italian suit with an American flag lapel pin made in China. An outright exaggeration, such as “America is the greatest nation in the world,” is much easier for Americans to hear when they’re standing in unemployment lines. It gives them courage to face the future with no jobs, no security, and absolutely no hope that Steve Carell will return to The Office after next season.
Which means the only reason to watch the TV set is to keep it from being repossessed during foreclosure.
Let’s face it, falsehoods are what Americans need right now, because the truth is just too frightening. So we forgive President Obama when he says, “We’re working hard on [name of issue] because we know it’s important to the American people.” This is spoken in jest, of course, but with a completely straight face, so as not to alarm voters with the fact that the “we” that are “working hard” are actually at lunch.
When John Boehner (R-Bronzed and Fit) says “the American people want fiscal responsibility,” he doesn’t really know, because he never actually talks to the American people. Yes, he talks with the woman at his tanning salon, but only to complain about the uneven skin tone around his temples.
Several candidates for high office said they proudly served in Vietnam, forgetting that there was nothing to be proud of, since they didn’t serve at all. In their defense, they definitely would have served, had they known they’d someday run for office. (“Uhm, sergeant, do you mind if I skip today’s patrol and stay in camp listening to my Dale Carnegie public speaking tapes? I believe I’d be of better service to the nation.”)
This tendency to lie can also be explained in another way: Politicians have made a pact with the devil. In return for getting on Sunday talk shows, their decency was removed surgically, a minor procedure for most people inside the Beltway, but one that causes Satan to wash his hands afterward, even though this is a clear violation of medical protocol.
And speaking of hand washing, my nursing student daughter says you should do it as long as it takes to sing two verses of “Happy Birthday.” (A third verse is recommended if you plan to pick your nose later.) This assures that your hands will be free of germs, except for those on the disease-infested door knob you touch when you’re finished.
With such pervasive deception from the ranks of our political elite, the public has but one reaction: a gut-wrenching fear that our leaders are completely out of touch with that thing called “reality.” Which means we should immediately stockpile weapons, ammunition, and those little cans of Vienna sausages that will last long after armed liberals have taken over the local supermarket. I think it may be the end of civilization as we know it.
So I don’t have to pay this parking ticket, right?
Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners. His award-winning book, A Hamster is Missing in Washington, D.C., is in its second printing and available at store.sojo.net.
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