Successful politicians, it seems, almost always lie to the electorate whose votes they seek. They almost always tell the voters what is is they want to hear, not what they intend to deliver. They tell different voter groups different tales, according to the known profiles of those groups. They lie seemingly without conscience. They change direction once in office without remorse or explanation. I speak here of those who are successful. So, if my hypothesis is correct, lying is an essential ingredient of political success.
In other areas of life and endeavor, such is much more rarely the case. Surely it is true for successful gigolos, who lie to women successfully to dispossess them of their virtue and of their assets. But gigolos are utterly despised by the large majority of women whose common-sense overcomes their superficial sensibilities. In the big picture of human relationships, gigolos do not dominate.
It is true of snake-oil salesmen who dispossess households of their savings by racking up lies about the properties of the commodities in which they deal. Once again, however, successful snake-oil salesmen constitute a tiny minority of the overall market-place. They survive by being fleet of foot, moving from community to community fractionally ahead of dawning realizations about what kinds of lying rogues they truly are.
It is true of a minority of religious frauds – the Elmer Gantry’s of that market-place. Once again, however, the large majority of those who market religion are hard-working true believers who honestly sell an albeit irrational product to those who search for such irrationality.
Successful politicians, however, are fundamentally different. They lie without shame and win election after election on a continuing flood of such lies. Seemingly unfazed voters swallow lie after lie, bewitched by their honeyed words, their tanned faces, their false smiles, their rolled-up sleeves, and their ever -outstretched hands. In the United States, incumbent success rates rival those of the old USSR.
So what is the matter with voters folks? That is the question that I pose today. That is the question that I shall attempt to answer in forthcoming columns. Does something bad happen to the brains of an individual when he moves from the private market-place to the public arena. Is stupidity a function of in which market-place one stands, rather than of who one is?
Your views and comments on this issue are really welcome. For we are confronting a problem of immense significance in attempting to understand the seemingly bizarre behavior of otherwise sensible individuals when they congregate in the public square to imbibe the words of false prophets.