By the time this article posts, it will be Election Day. Insert sigh of relief here. Other than who wins, the one overwhelming comment about this election cycle seems to be “I just can’t wait until it’s over.” It’s not just about the negative ads, I think people are also sick and tired of the blatant manipulation techniques being used to garner their vote.
One favorite manipulation technique of politics has always been the half truth. Today, we are barraged by media that attacks “the other guy” and tells us all about an individual’s mistakes and failures while in office or in their lives. Very often, this is done through telling only part of a story — a half truth. Tell just enough of a story to be truthful and lead the public to a particular conclusion. But it’s a conclusion that would not be reached if the entire story were disclosed.
So, what can “We The People” do about the half truth problem? Be aware. Realize that these days, what we are told is presented not to inform us, but to manipulate us into a particular conclusion. Realize that it’s probably not the whole truth and that to come to a completely informed decision, it’s up to us to fill in the blanks. That’s much easier and quicker to do nowadays than it was before the Internet popped up. (But we also have to realize that the Internet is full of half truths and outright lies as well. So an appropriate amount of research and work will need to be done to get to the truthful bottom of anything.)
Yes, it’s a lot of extra work, but it’s our responsibility. Since we can’t trust to be handed “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” it’s up to us as responsible citizens of a democracy to do the work and fill in the blanks.
As far as I’m concerned, telling a half truth to manipulate someone into a particular conclusion is just as bad as an out and out lie. It’s dishonest, it shows a lack of respect for the public, and I want no part of a person with that type of character in any public office.
If we were to cast some votes based not on what a candidate’s supposed agenda was, but on their displayed behavior and character, just maybe we could send a strong enough message and get some better candidates.