Politicians will pay for post-factual politics

lyingThe New York Times asserts that candidates are not paying the price for lying. I think that’s wrong. We just haven’t seen it yet.

The problem is pretty widespread.

According to the Times‘ article “Candidates Stick to the Script, if Not the Truth, in the 2016 Race“:

  • screen shot from DonaldJTrump.com

    Donald Trump denies saying that Marco Rubio is “the personal senator” of Mark Zuckerberg, even though his website includes a quote that says just that.

  • Hillary Clinton said that all of her grandparents were immigrants, even though her grandfather was born in Pennsylvania. She has also been inconsistent in her explanations of what happened after diplomats died in Libya, and in explaining her personal email server.
  • Ben Carson said he was offered a scholarship to West Point, even though he never applied there. (He says that Gen. William Westmoreland told him he’d be a shoo-in. All those invited to West Point get their costs covered by the school.)
  • Carly Fiorina claimed to have viewed scenes in the undercover Planned Parenthood videos that weren’t actually in there.

Whether you calls these lies depends more on who you are than on what the candidates said.

Based on my Facebook feed, if you support a candidate, you think their inconsistencies, poor recall, and denials of earlier positions are minor and forgivable. You’d rather change the narrative and talk about the lies and idiotically unsupportable positions of those on the other side. I don’t see Hillary Clinton’s backers giving up on her due to trust issues, and I don’t see Donald Trump’s either. (Go ahead, add a comment here about how your opponent’s lies are worse than your candidate’s and prove me right.)

I don’t agree with the Times that we’ve entered a post-factual world.

This is what’s going to happen.

When we actually start voting, issues of candidate veracity are going to come back to bite people. I don’t think Ben Carson will prevail. The preponderance of questionable recollections is one reason for that, because he has no political record, just a biography that now seems to be built on shifting sands.

Once the primaries are over we are going to have a couple of flawed candidates to choose from. Every single candidate has baggage, whether it’s how those lanes got closed on the George Washington Bridge or what really happened in Whitewater.

The Democrat will win Massachusetts. The Republican will win Mississippi. But in the battleground states, swing voters will vote based on everything, including who they perceive to be untrustworthy.

The Times is wrong. Lying matters. It just takes a while for the electorate to get serious about punishing dishonest candidates.

 

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