Saturday, June 05, 2010

Honesty In Politics

The current horror in the ongoing train wreck that is California’s initiative political process is Proposition 16. Created by Pacific Gas and Electric, it is designed to further tighten the monopoly that PG&E holds on the utility industry in this state and is deceptively and ironically titled the “Taxpayer’s Right To Vote Act.” Funding for the campaign is provided by PG&E, the Chamber of Commerce and several other business groups.

There is a full page ad for its passage in the Union-Tribune every single day, and television is flooded with commercials urging a “yes” vote on the issue. I don’t know precisely how much is being spent on the campaign to pass this proposition, but it is many, many millions of dollars. There is absolutely no organized opposition to the proposition, and I have not seen a single advertisement urging a “no” vote on it.

As with many such campaigns, a significant amount of the advertising is openly and blatantly dishonest. When the infamous Proposition 8 was being debated, proponents claimed repeatedly that if the proposition failed then churches would be required by law to marry gay couples; that individual religious bodies would no longer be allowed to define marriage for themselves. The claim was totally dishonest, contained not one shred of truth, and yet not one news reporter or editor called the promoters on it.

Yet let one candidate shade the truth about his military service and the
New York Times, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and news media far and wide will mount a campaign to have that person tarred, feathered and run out town on a rail for his dishonesty. It seems that candidates may lie through their teeth about their opposition, may tell the most outrageous untruths about the issues and about others, but let them exaggerate their own virtues by the slightest degree and fountains of outrage erupt.

I guess it’s all in how one defines “honesty.”

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