Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Liars and tyrants and boors, oh my!

When I was in the tenth grade, my boyfriend, a senior, lived just a few houses down the street from me. Both of us were honor students and both of us were churchgoers. We were decent kids, white Cosby kids, if you will, who wouldn’t have dreamed of smoking a cigarette or drinking a beer or doing anything in public that might embarrass our parents. And yet...

I clearly remember telling my mother one Sunday evening, “[Boyfriend’s] daddy says he can use the car tonight as long as he comes home right after church is over. Can I go with him?” Mother agreed.

I remember the phrasing about coming home “right after church is over” because I was very careful to imply –- but not to say –- we were going to church. We were not. Instead, the boyfriend picked me up in his daddy’s car and we drove to our favorite parking spot, a lonely dirt road on the edge of town, where we planned to make out for an hour and then go home, true to my word, right after church was over.

As we indulged ourselves in every teenage passion short of going “all the way,” we each kept an eye on the clock, knowing our parents would be none the wiser as long as we made it home on time. Except it didn’t turn out that way. It rained. Hard. The dirt road became a muddy swamp. Boyfriend’s daddy’s car got stuck in the mud. Boyfriend had to walk half a mile to a stranger’s house, borrow the telephone, and call his daddy. Boyfriend’s daddy, since we were in the family's only car, had to call a tow truck to come after us.

When I arrived home, two hours late, Mother was furious. “I can’t believe you lied to me like that,” she fumed. “Oh, no,” I said, “I would not and did not lie to you. I never said we were going to church; I said we’d be home ‘after church is over.’”

Mother didn’t buy it. I don’t know whether she was angrier that I twisted the truth in the first place or that I thought she was so stupid she’d accept my little disclaimer without an argument.

I mention this incident to prove that I recognize when the truth is being twisted and when lies are being fabricated by words or phrases taken out of context. I know that lies, whether by commission or omission, are breaches of trust. And, just like my mother, I am furious when I know I’m being lied to and furious that the liars think I’m that stupid.

The problem is, some people are that stupid, and some of those stupid people will vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve stated here before that I support Barack Obama, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the opinions of those who prefer the policies and philosophies of John McCain. If you cast your vote because you’ve researched the issues thoroughly and you genuinely prefer Senator McCain’s policies, then that just means we see things differently, have different needs, different priorities. If all voters were well-informed and the majority elected a different candidate from mine, I’d accept the majority-rules philosophy with grace and dignity. You and I might stop talking politics, but we’d still be friends.

Some people, unfortunately, will vote against Obama (as opposed to for McCain) because of the McCain campaign’s attack ads and viral e-mails based on innuendos, distortions, half-truths and outright lies. I am appalled at some of the things I see on television and on the Internet that are presented as fact and that I know to be untrue. It’s a mind-warping experience to watch an entire speech one day, then see a few choice words from that speech used to portray an entirely different concept in an attack ad one day later.

There have been times in my life when I’ve voted Republican. In fact, I voted for the first George Bush, at least the first time around. It was when he ran for a second term, against Bill Clinton, that I began to sense the emergence of a vocal mean-spiritedness in the Republican campaign. It turned me off.

In the years since then, that mean-spirited, cut-their-legs-out-from-under-them attitude has gotten steadily worse. I thought John McCain would be different. He used to be different. I thought this had the potential to be a clean, high-minded campaign. Instead, it's deteriorated into the worst kind of lying, lying, lying!

Does “putting the country first” mean “winning at all costs”? Does winning an election justify gutter politics? Is it okay to tell any damn lie the public might swallow in order to get the stupid-people vote?

I don’t think so. It’s my country, too, and I want my leaders to be men -– or women –- of honor. I want to respect them. I want to believe them. I want to trust them.

I learned the hard way that trust is earned by honor and truthfulness. That’s what my mother expected from me, and that’s what I want from my president.

9 comments:

  1. Oh, yes, yes, yes! Thank you for saying what so many of us want to say. I find myself groping for words to express my anger, my frustration, my outrage without using language that would offend most people -- including myself, but the frustration just drives me to all but pound my head on my desk. But I'll keep trying! We all need to keep trying to keep this from happening to our country.

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  2. Oh Dear Velvet, I feel like they all lie. I must admit that since I came of age to vote, I have ALWAYS, without fail voted against someone more than for someone else. I don't ever feel like I'm presented with two good, even great, choices and must decide who will do the best. I always feel that I'm trying to decide which of the liars will do the least harm. Which is why I hate politics so much. I really think presidential elections should last no longer than three months. Think of all the $$$ we could save and do something constructive with!

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    Your story (beginning) reminds me of my childhood best friend's brother. He used to tell their mom he's be home at twenty after ten...only he would blur the "twenty" into "plenty." LOL!

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  3. Creekhikers got my vote! I feel the same way. What I'd really love is to have someone run for President that truly has the best interests of the people of America in mind, rather than the best interests of big business. I noticed that all the convention parties were put on my lobbyists for big business, banks, oil companies, insurance companies and the like. I wish every candidate and person in America could read your blog!

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  4. Like Holly, I tend to vote for the one I feel will do the least harm. It's a lousy way to have to vote, I'd much prefer to vote for the one I feel would do the best job. But over the years I learned that opposing candidates will do their utmost to discredit the opposition, and will stoop to just about anything, so it's a matter of what you believe and who you believe more.

    Then again, the days of innocence are long gone, when we voted the party ticket faithfully. There's so much more going on in the world these days. I kind of long for the days when all we had to worry about was the Soviet Union.

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  5. I knew there would be some great, thoughtful comments here!

    Nan16 is SO right! Many people in this country are not aware of the CORPORATE welfare that goes on. We have way more PROFITABLE companies on the government dole than we ever had single mothers. But you sure hear a lot about getting the mothers off welfare!

    Like Janet said, they all spend more time talking about their opponent than they do talking about policy. I myself threw a snit fit (I think it was during YOUR blackout) when Carville held up a photo of Palin's City Hall. I took that as a slap in the face to intelligent people from small towns everywhere. He's probably THE most powerful Dem and he comes from a "town" with NO city hall.

    In the end I wish they would all spend more time coming up with a way to deal with the issues that affect us and less time downing each other! Which is the main reason I keep changing the channel until a few weeks before the election.

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  6. I absolutely agree with you. I've felt for many years that candidates should have to limit their campaigns to a written document laying out not just their platforms but by what method they will accomplish their goals. These attack campaigns lead me to believe none of of the candidates really know what they're doing. Whew, chatty Kat! That's what happens when one loses their computer for 3 months.

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  7. yajeevsmominlaw9/19/2008 5:27 PM

    Velvet -
    First good to have you back from the hurricane! And I was wondering when we'd hear some of your political views! I must say I so agree with you. I know both sides are 'stretching the truth', hiding the truth (like your boyfriend story, which was great and so well illustrates the problem), etc. I think we all can respect the candidates as they actually discuss issues - even if we don't agree. I also think politicians think that we will only vote for them if they promise us the world (and of course lower taxes!) but we are facing serious problems from the economy to world situation to education to healthcare to energy etc etc. These problems need some fixes that will take some serious, and difficult solutions. And it may not help me individually today. I don't need a president who changes what he stands for because he is running for president or a vice president who is 'just like me'. I have no business being vice president so why do I want someone like me in that office.
    Sorry for the rambling. Thanks for the podium!

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  8. hay velvet are you ok? has IKE got you down?

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  9. Love your blog and your thoughts on the election. I agree with what you have to say completely. I am just passing by to say hello. I listened to several of the songs you have listed in your sidebar. Some of them I had not heard in years.

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