Political Truth: Just Say Moo

by Carolyn Chase


e shouldn't be too surprised when politicians don't tell the truth. In the political arena, there really isn't much of a market for it.

Americans have lots of sweet sentiments about truth: "honesty is the best policy," and "we hold these truths to be self evident," and the fundamental "thou shalt not lie." There may be certain truths we hold "self-evident" - as declared in our most sacred national documents - but many of those were not evident at all before people organized to create them to be so. Isn't this the essence of politics: a competition for which set of "truths" will win? The battle continues.

In certain things, honesty is evidently too cruel a policy for Americans to stomach. Overall, feelings are more important than integrity. Opinions are more important than facts. Reasons are more important than results. Popularity and personality are valued over - well - over most everything else.

The truth is, most people really don't want to know a lot of the truth, much less the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Our self esteem just can't handle it. One of the first political lessons to learn is that people don't want to hear certain truths. Or you shouldn't put certain truths in certain ways. People won't like you. People who don't like you don't vote for you.

The truth may set you free, but in my experience it pisses-off a lot of people first. So the truth becomes a victim of politics. An old political saying goes, your enemies can hurt you more than your friends can help you - so it becomes easier to lie than to tell the truth.

The uncomfortable position of making difficult decisions for the overall public good is held hostage to the need for elected officials to be liked. This puts elected leaders in a difficult position, requiring all manner of fudging, manipulation and downright lying in vain attempts to please people. It's becoming required for political survival.

Furthermore, it's difficult to discern the truth through tidal wave of campaign rhetoric. Without time to follow politics regularly, it's very hard for people to understand how candidates perform and how issues get handled on a day-to-day basis.

While candidates will make lots of motherhood and apple pie promises about responsibility and community participation, many of them do not follow through. With millions of dollars now being spent in cosmetic or emotional attempts to attract voter attention, what can be done to see through the promotional deluge of the next two weeks?

In a small attempt to cut through the political loads of the day with a measure of truth, a group of veteran volunteer community members have banded together to present a new public service: the Manure Meter. Our motto is: "We know it when we see it." The Manure Meter is extremely sensitive to the excesses of political hyperbole and hypocrisy.

All of our "Official Load Inspectors" have spent many hours volunteering on the local political scene: commenting on projects, waiting to give testimony, hearing promises, and otherwise attempting to figure out how to make our region a better place through the political process.

Our first "award" is a measurement on a statement in the San Diego Union Tribune coverage of Jerry Harmon vs. Bill Horn. The incumbent 5th District County Supervisor is quoted as saying: "I have a total cross section. People are for quality, sensible growth, and that's what I campaign on."

MOO! MOOOO. MOOOOOOO. Can you hear it going off? The Manure Meter registers a full load. It may very well be what he campaigns on, but it's not what he's about or what he does. Horn has done everything in his power to push uncontrolled growth in whatever manner a property owner would ask. When you hear him waxing eloquent about sensible growth: "Just say Moo."

Watch for the Manure Meter at events near you. Look for our mascot: a reasonable facsimile of a beautiful cow, lovingly dubbed: Monica – in honor of another American with a newfound understanding of the politics of truth and manure...or should that be the manure of the truth of politics?

Visit out website at www.manurewatch.org. If you have nominations for the meter to measure, please send them to: loadlinemanurewatch.org or fax to: (619)272-2933, or call (619)272-7423.

We know this is a fertile field so keep those nominations coming. If you think you have what it takes to become an official volunteer "load inspector," let me know. It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it!