“I can’t believe she thought she could get away with that lie,” exclaims just about every American upon hearing the weekly scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton. Although Hillary is the undisputed world champ of lying, she is only the best among many politicians and government officials.
Why are so many of these people outright liars? Why are they so adept at lying and seem to experience no shame when confronted with it? Like everything else in life, I’ve got a theory.
First, concerning the inordinate number of liars in the governmental sphere:
There are liars in every profession, of course, but the natural competitiveness of the market more or less provides a sure and immediate check on lying in most enterprises. You or your employer’s business won’t be around long if you lie to your clients or customers. Not so for public employees and politicians. They don’t depend on “customers” for their revenue. Their “customer” (the average citizen) doesn’t have the luxury of just walking away with his money.
Each citizen is bound by the will of the entire society and must convince a majority of voters to stop paying the salaries of each government official that lies to them — a virtually impossible feat. Government knows this. According to the Government Accountability Office, federal officials and employees have a less than 0.27 percent chance of being fired in any given year.
If you’re a compulsive liar, or maybe even an ax murderer for that matter, you should head down to the nearest Federal Building and pick up a job application. If hired, you’ll probably be set for life.
The same lack of immediate accountability works for politicians as well. They have no single boss or board to give them a pink slip right at the time they are caught in a lie. A national politician has hundreds of thousands of “bosses” (his constituents), most of whom may suffer no immediate consequences for his lie like a business would. If caught in a lie, he merely needs to lie about the lying and count on the majority of voters not bothering to check into it. Which they generally won’t.
Second, concerning the impressive talent politicians, in particular, have for lying:
Lying is the only defensive weapon of a child. Not only does a child not have the physical strength to defend himself, he has not yet developed the intellectual strengths to justify himself, whether right or wrong. Therefore, when a habit of lying continues into adulthood, it is really a sign of failed emotional development and a mark of immaturity.
Adult lies may be more complex since the liar has more fully developed his intellect, but his emotional development has been arrested or has ceased altogether. Emotional maturity often becomes impaired during late adolescence when serious moral lapses become a possibility.
Violations of internal morality can take many forms: He may selfishly take advantage of others sexually by sleeping around, he may take pay for work not really done (there should be no mystery why so many lawyers are in politics), or he may simply succumb to the growing pressures of life by cheating or manipulating others.
If he fails to correct such mistakes, fully and soon, emotional maturity ceases to develop. He has no other way to justify such sin (to use the non-politically correct biblical term) except through a lie. He lies first to himself and then to others, and since his intellect is still being set, the habit of lying gets ingrained.
We all have done this to some extent, of course. Despite knowing better, all of us have encountered situations where lying seemed like the only option. This is usually when we don’t want to own up to doing something wrong, but sometimes it is just the only way to counter the irrationality in others: When a Nazi soldier knocks on your door and asks if you’re hiding Jews in the attic — and you are — you’re gonna lie through your teeth and no one would fault you a bit.
In such situations where self-preservation options are limited, we revert to the only defensive recourse we’ve had since childhood and lie like a child would. It’s sort of like learning to ride a bike, we might be rusty but it will all come back.
Hillary Clinton is certainly intelligent, even brilliant, but since she suffers no immediate consequences and probably has much that she doesn’t want to own up to (probably mainly to herself), she is emotionally stuck in the self-preservation paradigm of a little child and can lie about everything from the weather to the slaughter of innocents. She gets away with much of it because she honestly sees lying as a legitimate self-preservation strategy, even a necessity. It keeps her safely away from the facts of her behavior, whether recently or in the distant past.
Unfortunately, she found her soulmate in Bill, and together they perfected lying to such an art form that it is almost beautiful to watch. Hillary could shoot someone in the face on live television, then say she didn’t do it, and a certain percentage of the us might actually believe her, or at least really want to — she’s that good at it. Who knows, she may be tapping into our fond childhood memories — that time we were able to narrowly miss a punishment by convincing an adult of our innocent pureness. Subconsciously, we admire such talent, and that just may be the reason she gets away with it.
There’s really no way of ridding government of liars completely. Sometimes even private businesses get away with it. Larger corporations have more resources and such a broad customer base that executives and employees can get away with small lies to certain customers here and there.
We are aware of these lies sometimes, but often still give them a pass. I’ve been lied to by my cell phone company a time or two, but the hassle of switching my provider and now knowing where my trust limits are with them, I just don’t get too bothered by it. If a lie is big enough, however, we will usually call them out — ask to speak with a manager or post negative reviews on social media about them.
We need to do the same with government officials and politicians, but even more diligently. When they lie, we need to call them out on it. We must constantly remind the public of any dishonesty — particularly during election time or when anyone is nominated for any position of power.
We must not be afraid to even dredge up lies long forgotten to show any patterns of dishonesty. (Whole volumes can be written on Hillary’s past fibs, deceptions, exaggerations and half-truths.) Otherwise we’ll be stuck with an emotional child in office, or lifetime appointment, misleading us with ever more elaborate and astonishing lies.
Hamilton is a resident of Tooele City and is the creative director for Transcript Bulletin Publishing. His comments are his own and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of management.