In politics these days, the truth is a very fluid concept. Time and time again, leading politicians have been shown to say things that are wrong. This is understandable as we live in a highly dynamic world where no one can be expected to get everything right. What is unacceptable however, is when these ‘facts’ are shown to be false they are rarely, if ever retracted and indeed often repeated. This is when politicians stray from being wrong to being liars.
It has long been said that politicians lie, it is almost a stock in trade, yet it is a trait that undermines our trust in their profession and by default our trust in politics and democracy. We all know it happens and so why are we not protesting in the strongest of terms?
A strong hint can be found in Hannah Arendt’s excellent book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, in which she says that ‘What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part.’ Lying may well work for politicians as long as they consistently lie and repeat their lies over and over again.
Arendt goes on to say how ‘Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly subject to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow.’
Perhaps we have just got used to it and given up on the fact that we know they lie, they know that we know that they lie and we know that they know that we know. We have stopped caring.
I question if this is part of the plan, if indeed there is a plan. By constantly lying, bending and obfuscating the truth, giving conflicting or confusing messages it makes politics inaccessible to all but the most resilient of the electorate. Keeping up, pointing out their fallacy is hard work and many of us are no longer interested.
A populace disengaged from politics poses no threat to the system or those in power. While we look the other way they can get on with whatever it was they were intending to do in the first place, free of any scrutiny.
We all need to challenge what is said, seek out the truth as much as possible, listen to different opinions by getting out of our bubbles and re-engage with politics. What we know as democracy is under great threat.