Sunday, February 19, 2017

Vote for the best liar

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People like politicians who give straight and honest answers, so why don’t they?


Here is my best guess: politicians who do not answer questions clearly and succinctly do this for a reason and are doing it quite consciously. But it is very unnatural behavior. In “real life” it is hard to get away with it in any other profession. And interestingly, voters seem to be turned off by it. So why do politicians keep evading questions?
The reason: they are actually in a difficult personal position. Of course they know the answers to the questions. But they are worried that if they give a straight answer, they will be crucified by party members and colleagues, or they think it might limit their flexibility in future decision making. So, they have many things to think of when giving an answer, and their calculation typically is that not giving an answer will give the best return. And many of them cannot think fast enough to answer in a safe manner.
The cognitive process going on inside a politician’s brain when evading answers is not straightforward. It takes training and mental control to answer this way. People who are impulsive would probably not be able to do it well. Part of the problems of many new grassroots politicians is that they often are somewhat more impulsively responding to questions. This meant that the party did not look like one with a united set of ideas. And this can lead to a number of scandals, and ultimately, a number of these people losing their elected positions.
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Only the people who are really good in saying what they think the party wants them to say and saying things that they think the public might want to hear will be able to stay in the political game. Not everybody is capable of this. There are special psychological traits and mental abilities that are important for being a politician.
Image result for bullshit metersBut, there is a big but! To really get to the top spot, to be the absolute leader (in a democracy) it is not enough to be good at evading answers and being able to stick to the party line. For those positions, the ultimate winner might be someone who is indeed giving straight answers. Straight answers that are not only straight answers, but also answers that reflect a vision that people want from a politician.
Now, once you are POTUS (or the top official) you should be above the fray. You should be able to freely state what you believe to be true, without any worries or consequences. Hell, you are POTUS! It should be liberating to know that you can say the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. YOU WON! Maybe, just maybe you are going to worry about being re-elected. So, maybe you feel that you need to continue to answer questions with half-truths.  But even if you don’t win a second term, hell, you were POTUS! 

Potus: feel free to tell the actual truth at all times, and let the chips fall where they may!
There is an old saying in politics: to change the world, first you need to get elected. So, politicians justify being evasive, hell, even flat out lying - so that they can get elected. And then once elected, they can make a difference.  In their minds, the ends justifies the means.
But Tom, you always blog about “technology” and the Internet and such? Where are you going with this?
Today, BECAUSE of the Internet, the speed at which a politician can be caught telling whoppers is nearly real-time.  We always knew that politicians lied, for the reasons stated above. Now, due to the ability to prove things false so fast, to check the facts almost instantly, our politicians come off as morons. As idiots. As unfit to serve.  
Where all of this will take us is anyone’s guess. But one thing is for certain; the speed of the Internet and the power of instant “fake news” has changed the game of politics forever. So don’t blame lying politicians; blame faster and affordable mobile Internet connections. Our politicians did not change, our technology did.

If a politician lied to get elected, we get that. We can see how the system works. But now that you are elected, cut the bullshit. You won, now go out into the world and do your job. Go forth and lie no more.
And these are not only facts, but these are “true facts” as they say in Washington.


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