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Trump's Lies - Implications for Democracy

By ITS Education Asia

I have just finished reading this article “Trump’s  Lies”

(https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html) and it made me feel very sad.

I am not writing this article as a way to ‘bash’ Trump but as a comment on the general lack of honesty of our elected politicians.  Another recent article (Why Are Democracies Failing Us?) ( https://www.itseducation.asia/blog/why-are-democracies-failing-us/) is further highlighted by this article about D.Trump and his lies.  Many of our leaders now seem to believe that the public do not need to be told the truth.  The age old idea of “spin” (putting a story in a more favorable light) has been replaced with outright lying to the people that the politicians are elected to represent.

The reason that politicians seem to be able to tell blatant falsehoods and not suffer any serious repercussions to me seems to be in the “tribal nature” of current world democracies.  When people support their political leader it is similar to them supporting their football team.  It is “us against them” and it does not seem to matter what a leader does, those who support his/her side of politics are not concerned because the view seems to be “the other side is worse”.

This is then combined with 24 hour news programs that are always so full of “breaking news” headlines that individual important stories/issues just get lost in the general clutter of things that are presented as “important news”.  This this further exacerbated with leaders’ claims of “false news”when a story comes out that is unfavorable to them.  The end combination of this is that politicians/leaders are no longer being held accountable for lying.  Even when their lies are exposed, there is no consequences for them.

As an educator I find this situation deplorable and frightening.  The message we are sending to our youth is one that the world is all about “winners and losers” –  it is not about “right or wrong”.  There is a famous quote  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”   (Edmund Burke).  This equates in my view that every time other political leaders allow their side of politics to lie without challenge we progress down the path towards chaos and anarchy.  If we lose trust in those who govern then we lose trust in democracy.  Political expediency cannot be an excuse to allow the deliberate telling of falsehoods to the public.

The people have the right to expect the truth form their elected leaders.  The elected leaders should be held to account for telling lies.  Without truth democracy dies.  Without honesty who do we trust to make the right decisions….

Dulwich College Singapore

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

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