This editorial was first published in the Amarillo Globe-News. Guest editorials don’t necessarily reflect the Denton Record-Chronicle’s opinions.
There is an old joke that is relevant to today’s editorial — how can you tell if a politician is lying? His lips are moving.
This old chestnut is offered in relation to something called the “Pro-Truth Pledge.”
It seems as many as 20 Texas politicians (or wannabe politicians running for office) have signed the PTP, which is a self-described “global project that asks signers (including private citizens, public figures and organizations) to commit to following 12 clearly-observable behaviors that research in behavioral science shows correlate with truthfulness. These behaviors include clarifying one’s opinions and the facts, citing one’s sources, and celebrating people who update their beliefs toward the truth, and others.”
[Note: Among those in North Texas who have signed the pledge are Texas House of Representatives District 64 candidate Andrew Morris and Anjelita Cadena, chair-elect of the Denton County Democratic Party.]
El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and media obsession who is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Ted Cruz, has signed the PTP.
The truth is this — people should not make a show of doing something they should be doing anyway. In this case, shouldn’t politicians tell the truth without having to sign some silly document stating they are pledging to tell the truth?
Yes, we know it is completely unrealistic to expect our elected officials to be truthful. We are not living in a fantasy land.
However, it just seems a tad absurd for elected officials — and those who want to be elected officials — to sign a document stating they will be truthful. Shouldn’t this be assumed?
According to the PTP website, there is even scientific proof behind the PTP, “showing the validity of the science behind the pledge.”
Good thing, because there must be an abundance of politicians who were considering telling a whopper of a fib to voters, only to suddenly remember they signed the PTP — and then told the truth, no matter the cost. (Sarcasm noted.)
The truth is this — politicians are human beings. And human beings, with very few and rare exceptions, do what benefits them, especially if wealth, power and authority are involved. And if that means telling a lie, so be it.
Perhaps this is a crass and jaded viewpoint, but it is also realistic.
There is part of the PTP that seems encouraging — the part about disseminating misinformation on social media. However, it is difficult to see what anyone or anything can do about restoring honesty and integrity to social media, much less the internet.
So what do we do? Throw up our hands in surrender and admit that everyone lies? No, just judge politicians as you would any human being — and not whether they signed some meaningless online form pledging to tell the truth.