The greatest casualty of yesterday’s American election was Truth.
Looking at the numbers from PolitiFact, a non-partisan political watchdog, Donald Trump’s record on telling the truth was abysmal. On the side of truth (True, Mostly True and Half True), Trump’s combined score was 30%. The remaining 70% were on the side of lies. Hillary Clinton’s scorecard was almost the exact opposite. On the True side, she scored 74%; on the lying side, it was 26%
The voting American majority indicated yesterday that are okay to be lied to. They are not uniquely alone with this twisted desire. Political lies are par-for-the-course here in in Canada too. In Christy Clark’s bid for Premier in 2013, for example, the Liberals purchased faux front page advertorial from the Vancouver Province. “Christy Clark: The Come Back Kid,” screamed the headline. At that time, the Liberals were trailing the NDP by 20 per cent. A Liberal comeback was not likely. Yet, this faux front page headline, this blatant lie, spun itself into a new reality. This “article” marked her turning point, from least popular (even within her own party) to the newly elected.
We all, it seems, love the underdog. That’s why empty cries of “Bullying” have become so popular. Like, “The election is rigged.” Or, the “Come-Back Kid,” Or…
Canadians also easily accept lies from our new Prime Minister. For example, Trudeau rode in on the white promise of Electoral Reform, repeatedly promising that this will be the last unfair (first-past-the-post, or FPTP) election in Canada. It’s looking more and more like he won’t be honouring that promise.
Before Trudeau we had a decade of Harper, a man who ego-maniacally re-branded the Government of Canada as Harper’s Government. Harper passed more and bigger omnibus bills than any other previous leader (he spoke out against them omnibus bills while in opposition), he prorogued government when there was a possibility of defeat, and he refused to answer any previously-screened-and-vetted media questions.
Our current Prime Minister spoke today of the grand American election fiasco. Sidling up to the New Big Brother over the airwaves, Trudeau spoke of our “shared values” and promised continued close-working relationships between our two countries.
More lies. I don’t think many Canadians share Trump’s values.
We may share the same anxieties: the erosion of income, the demolition of the middle class, financial anxieties and so on. But the New Face of America is now run by a man with rather awkward values: He feels that groping female genitalia (eloquently called the p—y) is his entitlement, that entering into the Miss American change room without warning is his right. He calls Mexicans rapists, fears all Muslims, wants to revoke a woman’s right to abortion, wants to end gay marriages, avoids paying taxes, and threatens his electoral opponent with jail time. He wants to see more teachers have guns. The list goes on. No sir. These are not shared Canada values.
Perhaps Trudeau is just sidling up to the biggest REAL bully in the classroom (ie, he who cries Victim the loudest), thinking it will buy future protection?
We have seen shades of it from our own municipality. We have a CAO who hires over an existing employee contract, re-fabricating the nature of the initial contract. Who pitches a direct appointment as a cost savings over the termination of the former Corporate Officer, when in actual fact the new salary has increased by $15,000 and additional staff have been hired.
We have a councillor who takes a clearly-defined temporary appointment and re-redefines it as permanent, refusing to give it up. We have intimidating letters issued to the public, and a refusal to say if those letters were publicly funded. Simple FOI requests take from over three and up to six weeks to process. We have an office that easily redefines the Canadian Freedom of Expression. And, that’s just scratching the surface.
Yesterday’s election results have emphatically brought home the stark fact that we-the-public have normalized lies as an acceptable part of governing. Yesterday’s election result screamed out that it is OK to lie. Frighteningly and equally unsurprisingly, the 70% of lies spewed by Trump were not a concern.
Lies will not fix what is broken—systemic repair cannot come from fabricated fact—but they leave the dull hope of miraculous change intact. That’s a crappy foundation upon which to build the futre.
Yesterday’s biggest causality, in accepting a 70% lying rate, was Truth. Perhaps we need to examine this. Perhaps we should begin here, at home. Our next opportunity is May 9, 2017, in the provincial elections. Then, in 2018, we can house clean right here in Sooke.