It’s refreshing when a politician tells the truth. But what does that mean? And is it always a good idea? Donald Trump’s latest statements have me wondering. He said all these things recently:
- The Islamic State built a hotel in Syria.
- The Mexican government forces “bad people” into the United States.
- The Gross Domestic Product of the US in the second quarter was below zero.
- The $5 billion Obamacare website never worked, and still doesn’t work.
- Trump’s book The Art of the Deal is the best-selling business book of all time.
- John McCain is not a war hero.
The diligent fact-checkers at Politifact rate all of these claims but the last one demonstrably false (the last one is a matter of opinion). But I commended Donald Trump for his batshit candor, and he’s surging in polls. What does this say about truth in politics?
First, we like people that say what they mean. This is where politicians like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump connect. Normal politicians equivocate, evade, and obfuscate. These guys don’t.
Second, we like the politicians to know what they’re talking about. This is where Trump fails. He has no idea what the truth is. This makes him, not a liar, but an idiot. And while voters do not always pick the smartest candidate, they don’t want to vote for an idiot.
Finally, we like our candidates to have some sense of discretion (I hope). You don’t want the president going face-to-face with Vladimir Putin or Benjamin Netanyahu and saying the first thing that comes into his head. Even ignoring Trump’s lack of command of the facts, he looks like he’d be a loose cannon. The idea of someone like this in the White House is truly terrifying.
Speaking clearly is only an asset if you know your stuff and have some sort of filter between brain and mouth. Otherwise you are not only an idiot, but an idiot that broadcasts his idiocy continuously. While this is entertaining, it’s not appropriate for candidates for leader of the free world.