I heard a professor make fun of the story about George Washington and the cherry tree. He said, “Of course GW told lies.” Hold on! In George’s day a gentleman was protective of his personal honor and integrity. A man who lied was ostracized and cloistered from genteel society and its financial system, the Wall Street of its day.
Even if the cherry tree story is an exaggeration, why perpetuate such a myth at the founding of our country? Because it was a moral lesson directed at a crude population struggling to create an entirely original populist nation-state. “Never elect a man who is not truthful in his words and honorable in his deeds.” Democracy depends entirely upon public trust. Political and government lies can destroy this fragile thread.
As president, Trump’s words and wishes carry a lot of weight. The charge most often heard against him is he routinely lies. People who condone, support, and repeat lies, are themselves liars.
The Republican Party supports Trump’s lies concerning the election. Turning political parties into liar clubs is the beginning of the end of our democracy. Step two is suppressing journalists and others seeking the truth. The final step is the installation of a tyrant who has the will and power to destroy all opponents who do not adopt his lies.
How can Americans stop this downward spiral? We need to admit what political parties have become. They are no longer ad hoc groups of people who come together to elect an honorable champion for their cause(s). They are well financed corporations with a hierarchical structure made up of full-time professionals who solicit money, create and advertise their brand, investigate and attack opponents, and funnel government benefits to individuals and corporations that invest in their bad behavior. They are all about survival of the organization and making money for employee’s and investors. Lost in their frenzy to maintain political power is any interest in doing what is best for the country. A political party that cares about the wellbeing of all citizens would vet dishonorable members and only put forth candidates who, like GW, tell the truth.
The U.S. military code of honor embodies all the virtues we need for political parties and their candidates. What if the electorate pledges to only support a party that adopts and enforces such a Code of Conduct?