The Truth and Politics

By:  Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.
10/25/2012
       
The Truth and Politics

By looking at such diverse thinkers from the past as Machiavelli, Mosca, and Schumpeter, I show, first, that truth is not a virtue in politics and, secondly, why this is so.

After the second presidential “town hall” debate, more than one Republican commentator was upset with Mitt Romney for not having put the lie to the misconceptions embodied in some of the questions with which he and his opponent had to reckon.

There was one fiction in particular that garnered its share of attention. It pertained to the issue of gender inequality.

A young woman in the audience, exasperated by the idea that women get paid only 72 cents for every dollar paid to men, asked the incumbent and the challenger to account for how they planned on closing this “gender gap” in pay.

Now, Romney could have noted that this woman may as well be upset over witches and ghosts. He could have invoked plain old common sense by noting that if it was really true that employers could get this large of a discount on their labor force by simply hiring females, then men would be chronically unemployed. He could have observed that not only is it not a fact that women are underpaid, but that, if nothing else, decades of gender-based discrimination in favor of women has guaranteed them decisive workplace advantages over men.

In other words, Romney could have established, with the greatest of ease, that there is no gender gap.

But the Republican nominee didn’t do any of this. Instead, he played along, and proceeded to pander to female voters with a gusto that may very well have made even his rival, the Panderer-in-Chief, blush.

Romney did not tell the truth. Neither, I am sure, did Obama speak honestly on this issue.

And what is true of this issue is no less true for a number of issues to which neither Democrat nor Republican is willing to speak candidly.

Yet is there anything objectionable about this?

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Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. (photo)

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