Modern Rules of Politics

Modern Rules of Politics

The first rule of politics is that you never tell The Truth. You tell people want they want to hear because people need to believe they are smarter and more honest than they give themselves credit for, so they can pick who the best candidate is. It's a politician's job to let voters think this way.

But herein lies the crux of the problem of modern political life: a politician needs to tell people what they want to hear without making it appear such is the case. They have to come across as sincere, honest and rock solid in their beliefs, although they are being held to an impossible and absurd standard that regular people would never survive if the situation was reversed.

To illustrate, let's take the curious case of Mitt Romney, who is endlessly battered by the press and no shortage of Republican voters that he will "say anything" to get elected, or that he doesn't really stand for anything other than what's appropriate at the moment. But this precisely what people demand of their politicians! His awkward inability to communicate something that approaches genuineness actually isn't a liability: he just seems incapable of playing this wicked game that *demands* he be/say/act like someone he is not. So the joke really isn't on him, it's on the voters and the media pundits who cling to the fantasy that a politico must be the most honest person in the world.

From another angle, look at the extreme liberal dissatisfaction with Barack Obama. For his disillusioned supporters, they cannot understand his unwillingness to confront Republicans, his adherence to Bush-era policies and the presence of so many businessmen and lobbyists that he derided as "politics as usual" when campaigning in 2008. It's impossible to take their complaints too seriously though, because they not only projected their most wild-eyed notions on him, but they truly believed something that does not exist in nature: an honest man. Candidate Barack Obama told people what they wanted to hear; President Barack Obama makes decisions that are not based on that at all. But people need to believe that such things should never happen, because they *knew* him, which is of course, self-deception.

Politics is a great shell game. It's about lying while trying to keep a straight face, or in the case of Romney, to conform the rules of this sorry state with something close to his core values. (Possibly to maintain his sanity.) He seems uncomfortable because he's conflicted over the two, which means that as a politician, he suffers from having some kind of conscience. I write this not in defense of him or his candidacy, but the media's insistence on piling on him (giving him the Al Gore treatment, in other words) has nothing to do with who *he* is, but rather the phony creation that must be invoked and treated as the "real" candidate. But there is no such creature at all, and voters are equally guilty of feeding into this madness as well.

One of the other great lies of politics is that religion plays an important role. The very nature of campaigning for elected office is directly opposed to even the most basic religious values. In order to get elected, one must by default, lie. An candidate must lie to himself and he must lie to others (i.e., the first rule of politics). "Lying for the Lord" is as old as organized religion itself, but that fact does not excuse anything at all: the religiousness of a candidate is another suit that must be worn and discarded when it's appropriate. Piety is part of the overall creation of the Candidate, who must use this tool to convince people he does not know that he's sincere. Voters demand this because they need to soothe their consciences: self-deception about what you stand for vis-à-vis a political candidate is a voter necessity but it is also a fraud. After all, you don't question the personal piety of your mechanic or your doctor, two people with who you have more direct and immediate contact in your everyday life. Yet voters need to complete their false idol by putting their own exaggerated religiousness onto a candidate (who has to lie to them about the extent of it!) just to feel better about themselves.

Religion itself is nothing more than stepping stone not only for power, but to exercise it as well. To that end, why does a voter actually want someone to legislate morality but maintain they are free to do what they wish, and that government should be out of their lives? Again, self-deception and contradiction rise to the surface: you are against abortion and want your senator or representative to pass laws to outlaw it, but you also don't want the government in your personal life (i.e., owning a truckload of guns). These are contradictory stances that millions of voters have because they want it both ways, and they demand the same of their politicians. Because a politician wants power, he needs to say any and everything to get elected. Voters like to pretend otherwise and they *need* to pretend otherwise.

No politician who has ever "told the truth" has won higher office. If a candidate tells you, "I am going to raise your taxes but here's how I'm going to do it, here's what it will solve, and here's how we will repeal it in two years," you will have left after the word "taxes." Walter Mondale almost said as much when differentiating himself from George H. Bush and lost by something like 60 states! Voters claim they want solutions, but what they really want to say is, "I don't want to pay for it." So politicians need some other way in and they choose whatever cultural issue of the day is: "I can fix your problems by repealing regulation! It's a job killer! It's illegal immigrants! They need to be bussed back home! That's all that needs to be done!" And to say this lie is what voters want to hear. Nobody likes bad news, so why would a voter understand the way to fix his city's crumbling roads is to raise a tax somewhere? A politician, no, a **fool** can tell him that's what is going to happen and that fool will *NEVER* get elected. It is far easier for a man to believe illegal immigrants are causing all his problems than it is to accept the fact that his local or state government mismanaged money, made bad decisions, let businesses run amok and screwed things up without any help from illegal José. Voters need to believe lies while insisting they want leaders to tell them the truth. Describing this as a "vicious circle" doesn't even become to come close to the utter insanity of it all.

The game of American politics depends on several key players: the depravity of Republicans, the ineptitude of Democrats, the complicity of corporate-owned media and the stupidity of the voters.

Works every time.