Citizens deserve to hear the truth
Some months ago, a friend of mine gave me a book to read entitled When Presidents Lie, written by Eric Alterman. It sought to explore the history of political and official deception and its consequences, mainly in the province of the United States of America. One of its introductory lines is, "In American politics today, the ability to lie convincingly has come to be considered an almost prima facie qualification for holding high office."
Now, in the context of Trinidad and Tobago, our politicians seem not to be immune from deceptive utterances. Whether it is speaking of a church in Guanapo or about the reason for a State of Emergency, politicians seem to be always playing with words. As if they were using rhetoric and semantics to fool, what I suspect they believe to be, the gullible masses.
Now, the alleged, latest conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has perked the ears of conspiracy theorists and party loyalists, who see assassination as a real possibility. On the other hand, if one listens closely enough, one could hear the "steups" emanating from large quarters, who shake their heads at the remoteness of this claim, simultaneously uttering, and the steups continues.
Nevertheless, personally, I don't know if the threats are real or substantial enough to warrant this heightened red alert. Also, I don't know if this is the Government's clever attempt to justify the continuance of the inept State of Emergency as some purport. Whatever the reason, the lesson that politicians should glean from this is the growing scepticism by members of the public whenever they speak.
As the renowned saying goes, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." Politicians and State officials should realise the integrity that is so necessary in holding their offices honourable is being structurally compromised, undermined by no other but the untamed tongue.
The book When Presidents Lie went on to say that people are no longer surprised at the lies of politicians and don't hold it as a cardinal sin. It states, "Given that we have become accustomed to a culture in which everyday political lies are taken for granted, it is nevertheless remarkable to what degree presidential lies have shaped our post-war history."
So the moral of the story is be careful of the lies you tell, for they can shape your history and, more so, your destiny. Now, I am not referring to any one specific issue or any one specific party. This is a general lesson for all politicians. Your honourable offices demand that you be truthful with the populace and, at least, not insult their intelligence with lies, innuendos or half-truths.
It would truly be a sad day if our culture reaches this point where we expect politicians to lie. Or worse, where the prerequisite of becoming a politician is the ability to lie with a straight face. I shudder at the thought.
Mark St Rose