Sweet dreams. And trust us, you’re going to want to enable full screen for this.
Everyone wants to believe that their elected officials are telling the truth, or at least only engaging in some harmless “spin.” But lying is a common trait among politicians. It’s our job as citizens to call it out.
The first step in getting your government to be honest is to know when you’re being lied to.
Different administration officials lie for different reasons and in different ways. Let’s take a look at some high profile positions and the signals they send when they’re completely full of shit.
Why he lies: When it’s your job to step in front of journalists everyday and try to make a lunatic look sane, the temptation to lie can be overpowering. Also, his lunatic boss tells him to.
Learn the signs: Reddening of the cheeks, rising tone, stammering and mispronunciations.
National Security Advisor
Why he lies: So he won’t get prosecuted under a 200+ year old law no one else has ever had the balls to break. And probably, his boss told him to.
Learn the signs: Straight out of the Reagan playbook, he may suddenly claim not to remember the details of something he was once adamantly denied.
Counselor to the President
Why she lies: Unclear, but appears either to be a desire to achieve some personal notoriety or a sycophantic wish to appease an orange demagogue. Because, let’s face it, telling the truth just makes him look bad.
Learn the signs: You’ll want to check Politifact before believing so much as a quoted breakfast menu from this woman.
Why he lies: Ahem. Small hands.
Learn the signs: Are his lips moving? Are sounds coming out of this mouth? Has he tweeted? Odds are, he’s telling you something so fabricated the hem needs Fray Check®.
If your president is insecure, he can be susceptible to the influence of corrupt advisors and this could cause him to engage in risky behavior that’s dangerous for him — and the nation.
What can a citizen do? Forbidding the connection probably won’t work and could play right into the hands of the evil aide by strengthening their bond.
Some experts advocate for providing the president with good role models in hopes that decency and good judgment will rub off. Other experts argue that we don’t have time for that shit.
In very serious cases, where the health of our democracy hangs in the balance and lives are at stake, citizens may need to resort to desperate measures.
One such approach is to use reverse psychology. Instead of complaining about your president’s choice of companions, praise the companion over your president. Talk up the advisor’s strength and smarts, and draw an unfavorable comparison with the president’s own qualities. You can even go so far as to imply that the advisor is the one with true control and the president is merely a puppet. The more you can get this idea repeated by “the media,” the better the chance of its success.
Widespread messaging such as this will create a fear in your president that people perceive him as a weak “loser” and he may decide he has no choice but to assert his dominance by firing the offending advisor.
A crude, underhanded strategy, to be sure. But as the saying goes, “Desperate times…”
We were all introduced to the concept of “same seats” in childhood — you get to keep the seat you had before. That very one. Not the one next to it, or behind it, or right up next to the teacher…the same seat you started in.
Same seats is a great policy. For school busses. And classrooms. And the back of your mom’s station wagon or SUV.
Same seats is not applicable to the United States Supreme Court.
Republicans keep insisting that the seat once belonging to Antonin Scalia belongs to a conservative. To a strict constructionist. To someone just like Scalia. They were affronted that, due to Scalia’s unexpected demise, President Obama — liberal, divisive, lame duck, Kenyan-born Obama — had the opportunity to fill the now-empty chair in our nation’s highest court. Scalia died on February 13, 2016. President Obama’s term ended on January 19th, 2017. By any calculation, there was plenty of time, and a Constitutional responsibility, to try to fill the seat. Yet, we all know that Merrick Garland has never been voted on, and the seat remains vacant, splitting the court 4-4.
Now, the Republicans are happy that Trump has the opportunity to fill Scalia’s seat with another conservative. Pundits galore, and Republican politicians, have been talking for nearly a year now about how “Scalia’s seat” should be filled with another conservative…because it’s “Scalia’s seat.”
Same seats is not applicable to the United States Supreme Court.
It’s a child’s game. A way of asserting dominance. Grasping for what you had and making sure no one takes it from you. As an adult, trying to call same seats in a conference room or a waiting room will, at best, get you strange looks. It’s certainly not a way to govern.
However, if you want to apply the concept of same seats, well, strict constructionist, anti-equality Scalia never should have taken Earl Warren’s seat. From 1953 to 1969, Justice Warren presided over a court that “elaborated a doctrine of fairness” in a time of vast social change. The court that, among other successes, outlawed segregation; barred racial discrimination in voting, in marriage laws, in the use of public parks, airports and bus terminals and in housing sales and rentals; extended the boundaries of free speech; ruled out compulsory religious exercises in public schools; held that federal prisoners could sue the government for injuries sustained in jail; and sustained the right to disseminate and receive birth control information.
That’s the kind of same seats I can get behind.
I’m a forty-year-old writer and mother of two. But today, in my imaginings, I’m the coach of a high school football team and it’s time for a heart-to-heart.
The quarterback has been caught in some criminal-type hazing of a minority student. It’s bullying; it’s hate. It’s obviously crossed a line.
The whole team knew about it. But only two of them spoke up.
After school special material if ever there was.
“Look, team,” I say, oozing rationality and calm. There’s a whistle around my neck. I think I’m wearing a polo shirt, for Christ’s sake. “I just want to understand,” I say. “Tell me why none of you said anything.”
No one from the team will meet my eye.
“When you see something that’s clearly wrong, you’ve gotta say something, or you’re just as bad as the perpetrator.” At this, some look down at the ground, a few thrust out their chins in defiance.
Then I look more closely and realize my entire team is dressed in suits — some with red neckties, but each lapel dotted with an American flag pin. And we’re not sitting on bleachers, we’re in the Senate Chamber.
These are grown-ass people who were elected to be representatives of the people and uphold the tenets of our constitution.
And they don’t have a word to say about an executive order that bans people from nine countries that are predominantly Muslim. They won’t raise their voice to condemn an act that results in families torn apart, or support those who served our government in times of war. They are quiet while our government turns away people who have lost everything and are desperate to escape a regime that threatens their very lives.
And I know why they are silent. They don’t need to tell me.
They are silent because they want to hang on to the power they have. Sticking their necks out could put them at risk of losing that power. Or it could put them directly in the sights of someone powerful who’s known for getting revenge on his perceived enemies. Or they’re just fucking racist xenophobes.
They are in a situation they are not morally equipped to handle. And no after school special talk is going to change that.
But, enormous crowds of their constituents brandishing signs at airports might help. And each one of us in a voting booth in 2018 can definitely help.
I tear the whistle from around my neck and throw it at them before walking away in disgust.
Then the fantasy fades away and I’m out of my khakis and polo shirt and back in my writer’s yoga pants clicking the DONATE button on the ACLU website.