Saturday, June 14, 2008

Honesty in politics--or are those two mutually exclusive??

I was talking to a Muslim friend of mine who is very much a Barack supporter. He was explaining to me that he has recently become disappointed in Barack because of his pandering to the Israeli/Jewish vote. He feels this approach is alienating many Muslims.

That disappointed me. I have been very impressed with the high road Barack has taken so far. I hope he doesn't digress now.

It made me think of a recent documentary I saw on PBS's Independent Lens. The documentary followed the first year of Libera's first female president.

At one point President Johnson Sirleaf addressed a crowd of upset citizens. When she spoke to the cameras about the event, she explained that the people are used to politicians telling them lies and feeding them what they want to hear. The citizens then go away happy, but nothing changes and nothing gets done. President Johnson Sirleaf explained her approach...to be honest with the people.

Good for her! With all of the corruptness that we hear about in Africa, it is nice to hear that someone is willing to take the step of faith to be honest with the people, earn their trust, and prove to them that an honest approach can help the country progress. Honesty may not always be what people want to hear, but it gives the real picture and allows us to work from there.

As I watched her speak, I thought...But what about the United States?? Could we handle honest politicians? Could we handle the truth?

If we had a politician who walked up to the podium and was completely honest, how would we respond?

Unfortunately, I think Liberia is a step ahead of us on this issue.

Why do I say this?

If a politican were able to be honest and real with people, Barack and his people would say, "So what?!" when politicians try to insinuate that he might be Muslim.

If a politician were able to be honest, they wouldn't have to talk around the issue of "Why do you think low-income, uneducated White people don't like Barack?" Instead, they would hear the interviews out of West Virginia...and listen to the comments from people who blatantly will not vote for a Black man...and they would say out loud that racism exists and needs to be dealt with in our own country in order for us to move forward as a nation.

A politician with the desire to be honest would notice the underhanded tactics companies created in order to capitalize on the sub-prime mortgage scandals. The honest politician would challenge (or, perhaps, chastise) those companies who have reaped the benefits while leaving large numbers of people without homes.

I recognize that these are only a few of the issues that cause politicians to carefully construct their words (it would take quite a long blog to address all of the issues we "spin" and side-step as a nation). Politicians look at their certain groups/voting blocks in order to craft a message that will draw in and not alienate certain groups of people. Listening to President Johnson Sirleaf, though, her commitment to being honest with the people is so refreshing.

I hope that as we move forward, Obama and McCain will proceed with an honest dialogue in their debates as well as their conversations with the public...without the fear-mongering...without the below-the-belt insinuations...without the pandering.

Is the United States ready for that? Can we handle it?
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