Friday, January 27, 2012

On Politics and Hypocrisy

No, I'm not going to turn my lovely writing blog into a political commentary blog. Politics generally interest me not at all, so you need not worry that I'll spend a lot of time on it. I just had to share this one little thought I had.

When I was in high school, I had an assignment to go to my library and read an article by Charles Krauthammer called In Praise of Mass Hypocrisy. If you have a subscription to TIME, you can read it yourself, here. I recommend it. As will become obvious, after reading it only once, it has stuck with me for... a long time.

The article starts by pointing out that, though the average American of the early '90's was (as the average American still is) rather, shall we say, lax in their personal standards of morality, they still demanded presidential candidates be upright, moral, and generally better than they expected themselves to be.

Then, just when I was getting all "My gosh, he's right! How can we expect the president to have better standards than the country he leads?" the article pointed out that this mass hypocrisy is A GOOD THING.

Huh? Isn't hypocrisy universally bad?

As I understood from Mr. Krauthammer's article, when the average American holds his elected officials to a higher standard, he is at least recognizing that a higher standard exists. And not only that it exists, but that it is obtainable, desirable, and a pretty good thing to have in someone who will be making decisions which will affect the world. It is an acknowledgement - subconscious, perhaps - that we, ourselves, as an average whole, aren't living up to the standards we admire. Which means that, maybe, most of us are still striving to improve. To attain that standard someday for ourselves.

The article closed by pointing out that the opposite would be much worse than a little hypocrisy. It gave me chills. What if we didn't have mass hypocrisy? What if we elected decision-makers who were every bit as flawed and imperfect and immoral and untruthful as the average American? What if we stopped expecting our leaders to live up to the higher standard? What if we stopped striving for it ourselves? What if we decided that the higher standard was simply unattainable, so it would be unfair and unrealistic to expect anyone to meet it?

This presidential race has me scared. Maybe I'm biased - I probably am - but when someone's past has been peppered with adultery, betrayed trust, failure to fulfill obligations in an ethical manner, and countless other indiscretions, it boggles my mind that so many Americans can hold that individual up as a great option for the leader of the free world.

Is mass hypocrisy dead?

19 comments:

  1. Ooh, great topic! Is it dead? I don't believe so. Is it harder to find, today? Now that, I believe. There are so many distractions in today's world, so much to lead people astray that what's good and upright sometimes gets buried. But that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. We just need to hone our sight to find it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just hope enough of is find it in time to prevent tragedy.

      Delete
  2. Wow, I love this post. So relevant. Something totally on my mind. No, I don't think mass hypocrisy is dead...I think some politicians are brilliant at making us forget. Ugh, I hate politics. But...my book has a bunch of it in it, so maybe its love-hate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, yes. The art of deflection. Let's not talk about whether I'm a moral person - what relevance could THAT possibly have? It's not like we're marrying him.

      Delete
  3. It makes me sad to think that morality is looked at as passe or even optional. I can't believe the turn the Republicans are taking--Really? Really?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really, indeed. And I'm slightly more Republican than Democrat.

      Delete
  4. I honestly think it's more a result of an uneducated, unquestioning voting citizenry, not lower morals. When Mitt Romney said, "Newt Gingrich resigned from Speaker of the House in disgrace," and Gingrich responded with, "He just lied. I'll explain it later on my website," I'm quite sure 80% of the audience believed him and never looked it up. That's a presidential debate, and apparently, "Google it tomorrow" counts as an answer.

    I don't think it's a matter of voting for a man who, YES, did have to resign in disgrace -- it's a matter of being uneducated about the fact that that happened. For crying out loud, there are still people in this country who think our president might have been born in Kenya. Feelings are more important than facts, and having someone agree with what you already think is more important than investigating something on your own.

    The biggest problems facing our country, in my opinion, is a media that won't stand up to powerful figures (anyone catch that moderator cower before Newt Gingrich's supposed outrage about being asked about his affairs? NEWT GINGRICH, the man who lead an impeachment campaign against Bill Clinton allegedly LYING ABOUT AN AFFAIR? That took balls, my friends), and a population that is so anti-intellectualism that they wouldn't believe the media if they fact checked, anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post, Robin. Seriously, no one's perfect, but there's a difference between honest mistakes and out-and-out wrong. Huge difference.

    I'll tell you if Newt gets the nomination, I'm voting for anyone else. Too bad Pat Paulsen died. He was forever running for president.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4kWLUnorTU

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mistakes
      Wrong
      Repeated wrong
      Trouble-horrible-very-bad
      ...
      ...
      ...
      ...
      A certain Presidential candidate

      Delete
  6. I have very little patience for betrayal. People who made mistakes or whatever, okay, but repeated betrayal - how do I know I won't be next - that my country won't be next?

    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, because, he says we can trust him not to betray OUR trust. I mean, sure, he said the same to wives #2 and #3, but we can only prove that one of those was a lie, right? How dare we hold his habitual pattern of behavior against him? He promises he has changed!

      Delete
  7. In my opinion, the fact that Ron Paul is doing as well as he is in the election is proof that mass hypocrisy is a good thing, lol.

    But yes, it is scary that so many people stand up for Gingrich despite his skewed concepts of loyalty and fidelity in marriage, and that so many people are for Romney who is a tax-cheating Obama clone.

    *cough*

    Erm, I should stop now before I get on a roll. I feel very strongly about this particular election. xD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm just gonna let that one slide....

      (Romney Rocks!) :P

      :D

      Delete
  8. All of them are evil, as always. For me, it's about voting for the lesser of 2 evils. As far as their platforms go, I think Ron Paul is actually the best, although Gingrich definately has the most qualifications. I don't like any of 'em though, but can't vote for Obama. He blames Republicans for blocking him, but he had complete control the first 2 years. ALthough I don't think it's the gov't job to creat jobs. I want less gov't, not more of it. But I do think it's disgusting how they bailed out the banks and not one of them has been held responsible. At school, we teach the kids that the bully and bystanders are both equally held responsible. I feel it's the same situation w/ the banks & gov't. We bought our home in 2005 & live in an area that has gone back & forth between being the #1 & #2 most forclosed city in the U.S. since the market fell. Back then, we paid $239,000 & now it's assessed at $67,000. Yet, we don't qualify for any programs to lower our payments even though as a school teacher I make $400 less than I did 2 years ago b/c of pay cuts & insurance hikes, meanwhile, the cost of living goes up. Obama says hardworking, responsible Americans will be rewarded, but I guess I'll have to wait for heaven, lol. For now, I'm trying to pick up hours at the after school program and tutor on the weekends. Oh Happy Day! These guys running for Prez. already made millions off of Americans, it'd be nice for one to say I'm donating my salary. HA!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personal responsibility. What a concept. I'm actually hoping that someone used to making money and managing a lot of it will be able to balance America's budget.

      Delete
  9. I loved this post! It puts into words a lot of my frustration about Newt. I don't think I could vote for him under any circumstances. I hope I'm not faced with the choice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seriously. I've rarely cared about who wins, but I care VERY much about who loses this year.

      Delete

Help prove the void can talk back...