Oped: Some afterthoughts about the political process

Michael Langley

Now that is over, it is time to take inventory on what we can take away from this tumultuous election process. Who is the bigger liar? When does deception become pathological? Have politics always been this way or have they just recently descended to this level? Do the rules of duplicity include family members? Where are the lines drawn?

In the book “Why We Lie, The Evolutionary Roots of Deception and the Unconscious Mind” author, David Livingstone Smith offers this explanation. “According to the folklore of deception, ordinary, decent people lie only occasionally and inconsequentially except in extreme, morally defensible circumstances.

Anything more than the occasional white lie is considered a symptom of madness or badness: the penchant of the mentally ill, criminal lawyers, and politicians. Good liars, so the myth goes, always know what they are doing: they are calculating and exquisitely aware of their deceptions. People who lie without knowing that they are lying are thought to be at best confused and at worst insane.

Evolutionary Psychology opposes this cozy mythology. Lying is not exceptional; it is normal, and more often spontaneous and unconscious than cynical and coldly analytical. Our minds and body's secret deceit. The everyday game of strategic impression management seethes with deception.

Psychologist Robert Feldman, from the University of Massachusetts found, on average, people tell three lies for every ten minutes of conversation.

So what do I take away in retrospect? It has been said that we cannot really know anything in a real sense, but we are certainly entitled to our beliefs which are not to be confused with facts but they are our personal truths. Listed below are a few;

  • If being indelicate and vulgar with comments about the physically disabled, minorities, and women is offensive to all and especially children, I believe that spending millions of dollars to flood the airwaves with the same vulgarities is profoundly worse.
  • If political correctness was ever a’ thing’ it isn’t anymore
  • I believe that everyone in the world could be indicted if every private conversation they have ever had was secretly recorded.
  • Hate has become a defining variable in the political process
  • I believe that because of the resiliency of the American people we will emerge from this stronger and more clearly focused.
  • I believe that my recollections of elections past were characterized by a coronation of a party approved candidate from the top down process. This year has redefined the process to a bottom up process.
  • I believe that we are witnessing the end of the two party system. The millennial now out- number baby boomers and they are issue driven rather than party driven.
  • I believe that political advertising is often vulgar, factually questionable and is driven by billions of dollars. With that kind of money we should have standards, such as it should be truthful, be limited to statements regarding political policy and free of personal attack.
  • I believe that I might be too old to fully understand the process. It must be exhausting to be one of the candidates. The game is on in the other room and the commercial featuring the bleeped out obscenity has been on every commercial break. Glad that aren’t any young people watching.

— Michael Langley is a York resident.