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Woman to Women: The big white lie

Modified: Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2013

In childhood we became acquainted with telling a “little white lie,” a fib. A fib is a lie, typically unimportant. In purely political terms, are the lies being told in this election cycle considered “big white lies” because what is being misstated matters?

Growing up in a politically aware and active extended family, I respected elected representatives and expected honesty, ethics and decency. I expected them to speak with candor about the issues while holding office with honor and morality. In my study of American history, however, Tammany Hall in New York jumped out of the history book and proves that big boss politicians have been taking liberties and breaking the law for some time.

In the Nixon Administration, laws were clandestinely broken by the President of the United States, and it shocked the nation. But Tammany Hall and the Nixon scandal were about breaking the law.

Today politicians are far more careful not to break the law and instead seek to muddy the issues. Visualize a clear picture window. When rain streaks, the outlook is not as sharp, and as the layers of dirt collect, the view becomes vague, dim and ambiguous, until finally the view is totally blurred. In a political sense, this is incredibly dangerous.

The rhetoric from some politicians, often given with passion and confidence, lacks meaningful content these days. Here is where the dirty window comes in. I see some politicians stepping beyond rhetoric into vague specious arguments and ambiguous statements that are dishonest, “dance around the issues,” mislead, exaggerate, and at times simply refuse transparency. None of this is illegal, but it is effective in misguiding the public.

I attended the Capps vs. Maldonado forum in San Luis Obispo and was surprised to hear Maldonado say, “everyone in Washington needs to be thrown out,” “Lois Capps has spent 14 years in Washington making wrong decisions,” and that he didn’t do negative advertising. You be the judge of these statements.

I am particularly concerned for the youth, 13 to 19, who are keen consumers of the media, spending more than seven hours a day, excluding texting, gobbling up news from their computers, iPads and TV. What this demographic ingests clearly influences their peers, parents and the culture at large.

If we are not given the truth from our candidates, who are supposed to be public servants, how can we make informed decisions in the voting booth? Not everyone has the time to fact check and/or research the issues. Let’s demand substance!

Lee Perkins moved to Atascadero with her family in 1986, and is now retired. She has worked as a secretary, office administrator/public relations specialist, and K-12 school counselor.

For the complete article see the 10-12-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-12-2012 paper.

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