by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
RFK Jr., in his recent announcement of candidacy for president, declared that he was going to do something truly radical if elected president: tell the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or unpopular: …
“Truth is, when I was a little boy, nobody in this country would dream that our government would ever lie to the American people, in fact, and that’s not a joke. Nobody believed it back then. In May of 1960, that changed a little when Gary Powers crashes a U-2 in Russia and the Eisenhower administration denied that we had a U-2 program because they didn’t know it. They didn’t know at the time that the Russians had captured Gary Powers. And when the Russians produced him, it was a shock to the American people that their government had lied to them. …
… My father, just before he died, very sadly, [said] people in authority lie, and the government now lies to us. We all know it. We take it for granted. When my uncle left office in 19—, when he died in 1963, about 80% of Americans said they trusted their government. Today, 22% trust in the government, and 22% trust the press. The lowest level ever.”
The idea of a politician being held to such a standard shouldn’t be radical, but it absolutely is. At this point, we simply take it for granted that if a government actor’s lips are moving, he’s probably lying. The only questions are how much of what he’s saying is exaggerated, distorted, or outright fabricated, and for what purpose?
And because the corporate media that is supposed to expose and chronicle politicans’ lies is almost always in on the deception itself, the onus falls on the individual or a trusted independent media source to sort fact from fiction. What this leads to is a devastating decay in trust in government and an erosion of civic engagement of the sort seen in Eastern Europe in the heyday of Soviet communism.