This article was originally published by James Bovard at The American Institute for Economic Research.
The final weeks of a presidential campaign are aome of the best opportunities to view political perfidy in spectacular colors. While the media lectures Americans about their civic duty to vote to save the nation, the candidates continue conniving nonstop with no respect for the facts or decency.
After the election is settled, the media and the political establishment will announce “the system worked” and Americans must again respect and obey their rulers (unless Trump is re-elected, of course).
Politicians have mandated warning labels for almost everything except voting booths. Federal agencies require full disclosure of risks for everything from mortgages to volunteering for medical experiments. People are entitled to far more information when testing baldness cures than when casting votes that could lead to war.
Hopefully, Americans will not be as gullible after the election as many are before casting their ballot. Dishonesty is the distinguishing trait of the political class, going all the way back to ancient Athens and the satirical plays of Aristophanes. In 1799, Thomas Jefferson observed, “Whenever a man casts a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.”
A successful politician is often merely someone who bamboozled more voters than the other liar running for office. Political campaigns rely on deception because, as economist John Burnheim explained, “Overwhelming pressures to lie, to pretend, to conceal… are always present when the object to be sold is intangible and its properties unverifiable until long after the time when the decision to buy can be reversed.”
Lying has long been part of presidents’ job description: the names of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon practically became synonyms for deceit. Former President George W. Bush is being rehabilitated by the media nowadays. But Bush made “232 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and another 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda,” as the Center for Public Integrity reported. Bush’s determination to dishonestly drag America into another Middle East war led to the deaths of more than 4,000 American troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.
President Barack Obama received sainthood even before his election and he retained his halo even though he falsely promised dozens of times that people could keep their doctor after Obamacare’s decrees took effect. Obama campaigned in 2008 on a peace platform and then bombed seven nations. Obama promised “no more illegal wiretapping” but he unleashed the National Security Administration to target any American “searching the web for suspicious stuff.”
The 2016 presidential race was a landmark: never before had American voters been obliged to choose between two such widely despised candidates. Routine deceit by both candidates helped make “post-truth” the 2016 word of the year according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
The 2020 race is also deluging voters with near-record levels of malarkey. Joe Biden denied referring to American soldiers as “stupid bastards” (despite a video of his spiel), denies that his son Hunter has done anything wrong (despite the pesky laptop emails), and exaggerated the Covid death toll a hundredfold. Trump has ludicrously portrayed his pandemic response as faultless, wildly exaggerates the economic achievements of his administration, and perennially denies the damage inflicted here by his trade wars. The one certainty is that the 2020 election will not be won by an honest man.
If a new president is elected next month, the media will insist that “this time is different” and that Americans can safely trust the White House again. In reality, Election Day merely marks a brief intermission between campaigning lies and governing lies. Yet, if Biden wins, Americans will be encouraged to pretend that election victories expunge the sins – or at least the character defects – of triumphant politicians. Winners supposedly deserve a “honeymoon” where people pretend they are trustworthy enough to enact new laws and launch ruinous new federal programs.
But nothing happens after Election Day to make politicians less venal. Presidents and members of Congress take oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution. But, as former U.S. senator Bob Kerrey explained in 2013, “The problem is, the second your hand comes off the Bible, you become an asshole.” When elected officials scorn the Constitution, politics becomes little more than promising and pilfering.
America is increasingly a “Garbage In, Garbage Out” democracy. Politicians dupe citizens and then invoke deluded votes to sanctify and stretch their power. In the post-9/11 era, politicians treat Americans like medical orderlies treat Alzheimer’s patients, telling them anything that will keep them subdued. It doesn’t matter what untruths the people are fed because they will surely forget them.
Lies subvert democracy by crippling citizens’ ability to rein in government. As Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco and mentor for Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, said, “In politics, a lie unanswered becomes truth within 24 hours.” Any lie accepted by a sufficient number of ignorant voters becomes a political truth.
Disregarding political lies paves the way for official crimes. As former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg declared, “When we tolerate dishonesty, we get criminality.” If elected politicians can lie and cover up their actions, then how can any reasonable person not expect to be oppressed?
Politicians assure that voters’ apparent consent is irrevocable regardless of how many lies permeated election campaigns. But there is no such thing as retroactive self-government. Belatedly exposing political lies does nothing to resurrect lost freedoms.
Deceiving voters is as much a violation of their rights as barring them from the polling booth. Only if we assume that people consent to be lied to can pervasive political lies be reconciled with democracy. And if people consent to deceit, elections become little more than patients choosing who will inject their sedatives.
President Obama, in his January 2017 farewell address, criticized Americans who “blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.” By Obama’s standard, the perpetual perfidy of the political class would justify condemning voters almost regardless of how they cast their ballots. Obama also condemned people who did not vote. Obama thereby created a no-win situation – except for politicians.
Obama, in his 2016 speech to the Democratic National Convention, also declared, “We do not look to be ruled.” Regardless of the irony of a heavy-handed ruler tossing out that line, it rings true for tens of millions of Americans who make their own liberty their supreme political value.
In the short run, the political game is rigged so that winners capture far more power than many, if not most, Americans would willingly cede to them and vastly more than the Constitution permits. But citizens can reduce the hazards they face by remembering that winning votes never redeemed a rascal. The winner of next month’s presidential election will be a clear and present danger to Americans’ rights and liberties regardless of his margin of victory.
“Politicians assure that voters’ apparent consent is irrevocable regardless of how many lies permeated election campaigns. But there is no such thing as retroactive self-government. Belatedly exposing political lies does nothing to resurrect lost freedoms.”
If I was selected to be up there, by some random drawing (like under “sortition”) I might repeatedly keep asking why known, foreign agents are given equal time, instead of comparing myself to Lincoln in the RNC and making peace offerings to white-replacements, in the SOTU. At dancing with LGBTQIAAP’s, my ballot went in the literal paper shredder. Yes, really.
I don’t mind whether strange and colorful people exist. I question their primacy in the social contract; there is absolutely zero chance of a patriarchal, nuclear, single wage earner, under an economy that is run like your campaign.
If you won’t conserve any needful resource, in particular, for any conservative demographic, in particular, I will refuse to call you conservative, forever. I have done so under pressure, in public, and will keep doing so, forever and ever. I set the bar so low that anyone can understand.
For me, the strongest statement I can make is not to vote for anybody at any level. The system is completely FUBAR, I do not support the deceit and corruption, and I’m resigned for what’s ahead. I’ll be voting with my M1 Garand and my SKS when the time comes.
I agree, I just wish no one would vote. If a politician wins by one vote they stand up and claim a mandate for their agenda.
I had voted third party and independent for years, but that is useless. No I refuse to vote, starting with the 2016 elections.
Voting for the lesser of two evils, still gets you evil.
I will not participate in the destruction of America.
James Bovard, great article. Recent revelations about INFLUENCE PEDDLING / MONEY LAUNDERING by politically powerful families, reminds me of past incidents. Governor Blogoyevitch (D) sold a vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder, another Demonrat. Blogoyevitch was AMAZED that he was charged, arrested, and convicted for a crime. He understood that all politicos did the same thing, stated as a powerful political insider. The Clinton (D) Foundation acquired tremendous quantities of money. It is suspected that the Kerry Family is similarly involved. Now we have the BIDEN (D) laptop.
“You Know Sometimes Words Have Two Meanings” -Led Zepplin
A linguistic hat trick. Liguistic corruption for purposes of fraud and political tyranny. Maybe the French are onto something with preventing the mis-use of language. There is a need for the prevention of language misuse within the legal system. If the words mean nothing, or opposite or mis-understood meanings, the laws mean nothing and contracts mean nothing. Are we going to spend the rest of our lives debating what the meaning of is is?
The attack being used by Fascists and Marxists which both produce the same end result has been the attack on Liberalism and Neo-Liberalism. We keep hearing people say that Liberalism has failed and that Neo-Liberalism has failed. I would agree that Neo-Liberalism has failed, because Neo-Liberalism is Liberalism without Liberty, and Liberty is is what Liberalism is based on, and embraces an end to tyranny and an end of monarchies and feudalism starting from The Age of Enlightenment and espousing the rights of the individual and the Bill of Rights. Neo-Liberalism, or Liberalism without Liberty, is fake generosity controlled by the government and fake inclusiveness and fake non-discriminatory practices and mandates. Neo-Liberalism is essentially equated with sunscreen directions as in apply liberally, but the only thing that they are applying liberally in actuality is bullshit.
Marxists and Fascists love to try to convince people that there is a difference between Marxism and Fascism just as Republicans and Democrats love to try to convince people that there is a difference between the two parties when the differences are miniscule.
Marxists like to say that Fascists exert power over the weak and hand power over to corporations and that Marxists like to empower the people. The outcome was the same. Volkswagon was a German Nazi project which was owned by the state. Siberia was filled with people that were forced to work in enslavement camps, and the Marxists brutally murdered untold numbers of people as the Fascists did.
The attacks stemming from Marxist economists are basically bullshit because they admit that there is parasitism taking place by corporations and the financial sector. The Marxist economists are fervent supporters of parasitism though, and would like parasitism to be the job of government and the surveillance state, rather than the corporate sector and the financial sector. The attack is on liberty, because they know that Marxism cannot occur simulatneously with liberty, and neither can Fascism. Marxism and Fascism are both systems of parastic tyrants.
Liberlaism is not the problem. A lack of Liberalism is the problem! Liberalism as in The Bill of Rights! They cannot survive with Liberalism because they are parasites dependent on violating our constitutional rights! They are the problem!
What if I just reject parastism regardless of where it is coming from? It is of no benefit to me to trade one group of tyrannical parasites in for another group of tyrannical parasites.
The same Marxist economist con-artists are claiming that China has succeeded economically because of government management of financial assets and the surveillance state by locking down Wuhan for the coronavirus, depriving the Wuhan residents of any and all rights and autonomy, and have criticized the U.S. stock market and corporations, but China would still be in destitute poverty if it were not U.S. corporations and the U.S. stock market, because most of the U.S. corporations are in China, and most capital gains from the U.S. stock market have flowed directly into China as a result of it. They conveniently overlook the fact that Wuhan never should have been locked down in the first place, and that the coronavirus is not a life-threatening diseease that warrants such measures of absolute tyranny. All of those things are fact inconvenient for Marxist economists and when the facts are introduced, their arguments disintegrate into a pack of lies and absolute tyranny.
We must kill the beast! The stock market that has been responsible for almost all of the corruption within the government and businesses! Since March 17th, 2020, 43% of small businesses have had to at least temporarily close, and small businesses have had to reduce staff by 40% as a result of the scamdemic. Small business also only have two months worth of cash on hand as a result of it. This is all being done in order to transfer assets over from the honest and competent, over to the corrupt and incompetent. It is keeping the parasitic beast on life support at everyone elses expense. Since the lock down, Americas 538 billionaires have increased their networth by over $860 billion. The FMAGA tycoons networth surged by over 38% in a fraud scam of data theft and perverted spying program psy-opped as contact tracing. Kill the beast! Or be killed by it! Those are America’s two remaining choices! It devours everything in its path, and is responsible for $21 trillion in accounting errors in a Pentagon, Treasury, Wall Street money laundering circuit with more dirty laundry than the Netenyahus visiting the White House! Not to mention all of the bail-outs!
The God damned thing is killing us! It provides a criminogenic petri-dish for corruption and it always has! It just keeps getting worse!
I minimize how politicians or officials affect my life. I am a single man, I answer to no one, I literally do as I please. I seek permission from no one, I don’t even think about if I have to. And I won’t be responsible for anyone. Regardless who, or what political party, is in power, I don’t let it impact my life, I simply don’t play games where I lose. On my individual basis, I counter about everything I can that officials do so that it minimally affects my life, I almost always find a way to prevail, I’m not going to take the hit.
I have a very nice home, acreage, my man toys, career, investments, and my freedom. I come and go where and when I please, I spend or invest my money how I please. My property and assets belong to me, and I alone exercise sole discretion over it all.
I date women all the time, they want to be serious, I do not and will not. They’ve even accused of me of getting them pregnant, can’t happen, I had a vasectomy several years ago, only I keep forgetting to share that little detail with them. I never lead them on or imply anything false. I never mention the C word – commitment, the R word – relationship, the F word – family, or the L word – love. But after a while, they want to have a conversation that includes at least one or two of those words. When I tire of the relationship, or when it becomes an annoyance, I end it. H. L. Mencken said “love is the delusion that one woman differs from another”.
Free men simply cannot allow gov., or women, or circumstances, or anything to affect their lives, to cost them. I long ago threw off the yoke of conformity, pointless sacrifice, and voluntary enslavement. If you make my lifestyle your lifestyle you will prosper and enjoy individual empowerment. You will have liberty and satisfaction of life most only dream of. Some won’t like this post, but that will be very telling for them.
Quick Learner, I understand the appeal of your position with a history of SOME women having taken advantage of SOME men. I’m here to tell you that there are SOME women with good values that make good partners-in-life. What’s required? A strong moral-philosophy, some control of primal urges, very limited or NO usage of drugs & alcohol. These attributes indicate maturity (Some folks, even in my old age group, never achieve these traits).
SOCIETY requires a “nuclear family” to raise children, build homes, and perpetuate the species. Does that require sacrifice and hard work? – YES. Does that make that adult participating in a “nuclear family” more desirable as an employee? – it does for me.
A lot of people don’t understand, one only gets to vote for the candidate that was selected for them. When a candidate wants to run for office, especially at federal level, but often at state levels too, they must first get the approval of the party bosses, who in turn must render fealty to the deep State. If a candidate is not going to play ball and make promises, and agree to fulfill the agenda of the guys in the back room, they are not going be on the party’s ticket. When election rolls around, you are voting for candidate A or candidate B, both who had to have the blessings of the bosses.
Once in a while a candidate, when elected to office, will veer off course, and do things the lords don’t like. Then, he (or she) must be removed. This has been part of Pres. DT problem.
Elections serve only to legitimize the candidate so that when he acts he can claim it is in the name of the people. For example, I don’t think in giving away billions and billions and billions of dollars and tons of sophisticated weapons to other nations, especially when we are having so many fiscal and economic problems in our own country is a good idea. It comes out that Israel receives more than 10 million dollars a day from the US, every day of the year, no strings attached. I think if most people were aware of things like that there would be an uproar in the country.
The will of the people are of no consequence to the deep State masters, the elected candidate is in office to primarily serve the agenda of hidden faces and hidden names.
Some say Mark Twain said this, “if voting made any difference, they (the State) wouldn’t let us do it”.
Wait a minute You say Biden called Soldiers stupid bastards??? aaannndddd what did Trump call them???? Quote “Losers and Suckers” this is a verified fact, Bruh where is the video of Biden ever calling U.S. soldiers “bastards” ???? Show me the video! Oh and Hunters “Laptop” Lmao!!!!!!! Riiiggghhhttt OK. OH since your that well informesI have a Bridge in Brooklyn i can sell you, real cheap too!
Sadly people like you who want to turn America back into 1920’s-30’s Jim Crow America. Got news for you… it aint gonna happen. Sadly lots of people in this country would rather take up arms and start a civil war if their grand imperial wizard in chief doesnt get elected.
Remember this Nazi Germany tried it they failed. If DT loses and I pray he does I hope we just go back to normalcy where having a conversation doesnt mean shooting somebody because their not your kind.
BS – Your post is shrill and hysterical. No, no one wants to go back to Jim Crow, how stupid to say that. No, we are not nazis, and Pres. DT is not some kind of racist-in-chief. And yes, there is a video of JB recently calling soldiers “bastards”. He was addressing a group of soldiers in a building like a hangar, his wife was behind him on a type of podium, and when he was mentioning how fantastic his wife was there was no applause. JB was angry with the non-response to his speech and said “Why don’t you applause you bastards.” Yes, it did happen, I saw the video, and the video exists but probably been scrubbed.
Based on how frantic this post is, I worry that you might do something horrible to yourself if JB loses.
hunter biden smoking crack for adults only from GTV
Good article. However, we are not a democracy. I hope this helps.