In the first century of the Common Era, Stoic philosopher Epictetus said “A Cynic aims to discover what things are friendly or hostile to man, and after making accurate observations, he then comes back and reports the truth.” Reporting the truth cost Classical Cynics their freedoms and often times, their lives, but regardless the consequences, they were faithful to their belief that reporting the truth was more important than their own personal well-being. In Republican politics, the concept of reporting the truth is non-existent and contrary to their natural inclination to lie for the sake of political expediency despite the absurdity of their claims or the preponderance of evidence disproving nearly every word they utter.
There are myriad reasons why Republicans lie as a first resort, and it is possible they have lost the ability to ever speak the truth. The terror attacks of 9/11 marked an increase in the severity and frequency of Republican lies, but they reached a fevered pitch with the election of Barack Obama as President. The Republican presidential primary has been a contest to determine which candidate can concoct the most egregious lies, but Willard Romney is by far the biggest liar in the race. Romney’s predisposition to change his position on the issues, depending on the mood of his audience, is a sign of a weak character, but his blatant lying portrays a man of extremely low moral fiber and belies his assertion that he is a Christian who can be trusted to lead America. Willard is not the only Republican liar, but he may be the worst, and that is saying something with the abundance of lies issuing from Republicans in state legislatures, governor’s mansions, and the U.S. Congress.
Republicans enjoyed great success lying to the American people during the run-up to the Iraq invasion and subsequent war on terror, and there has been no end to the lies Republicans have repeated about President Obama whether it is his religion, nationality, or intention to change the nature of American government and society. However, in campaigning against President Obama, Romney has taken lying to such a level that he “is running against policies that haven’t happened and an Obama that doesn’t exist.” Romney’s lies about the President go beyond normal political exaggerations, and despite his lies being exposed in the media, he continues unabated without apology, acknowledgment, or correction. There is an eleven-part series detailing Romney’s lies since he declared himself a presidential candidate with evidence to contradict his assertions, but it is worth noting one or two that many Americans are inclined to believe because of the constant propaganda from Republicans and conservative pundits.
Republicans, and Romney, have been propagating a myth that President Obama said he “sought higher gasoline and energy prices,” and Romney called on the President to dismiss his “energy and interior secretaries and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, whom” he said “were deliberately driving energy prices higher, blocking oil and gas development.” The truth is that the President has expanded domestic drilling, called for an end to speculators driving up the cost of gasoline, and fast-tracked the Southern leg of the Keystone pipeline to ease the flow of oil. Romney also said, in reference to Iran, that “It’s quite clear that the president wants to avoid in any way a discussion about a military option.” In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the President said, “I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power: A political effort … a diplomatic … an economic effort … and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.” Romney knows what the President told AIPAC because he heard and critiqued the President’s speech.
So why does Romney lie shamelessly? Because many people he is addressing are stupid and it is what they want to hear. In fact, the only reason any Republican lies is because they know well that there is a large segment of the population that revels in ignorance and bigotry and will believe anything that demeans President Obama or that fits their limited world view. Republicans and conservative ideologues understand that flattering stupid people as “real Americans” with claims of defending them against big government, Socialists and educated liberal elites is a powerful tool to manipulate idiots for the powerful corporate interests. For stupid “real Americans,” bigoted lies and fear mongering sound better than the truth they hardly have the sense to verify, so they cling to what they need to hear. Some misconceptions Republicans have advanced are that Christians are persecuted, Obama is a Muslim and is coming to take their guns, Social Security is an entitlement, and that the government is taking their money and giving it to sex-crazed women to pay for contraceptives. The list of delusions perpetuated by Republicans, Christian extremists, and conservative pundits is endless, but they have been successful in creating an alternate reality that enables them to convince idiots to vote against their own self-interests. That is the problem with stupid people; Republicans can manipulate them with simple untruths that are not easily fact-checked; like Obama is a secret Muslim.
Willard Romney’s lies, though pernicious, are a different beast. Romney is not necessarily targeting those illiterate or historically challenged “real Americans,” so he must understand that his wealthy elite and middle-class audience knows he is lying and he certainly knows pundits on the left are exposing every fallacious comment he makes. But he carries on as if no-one notices or cares that every single remark about President Obama is a bald-faced lie. Romney is so much more than a typical Republican liar because he changes his position on issues so often that it is hard to imagine he can remember from one day to the next what he said yesterday much less last week. However, he is a Republican liar and as such, he is counting on ignorance of “real Americans” to fall for his drivel, but independent voters may not be fooled so easily.
For every ignorant, memory-challenged Republican sycophant, there are 10 Americans who remember that four years ago, Bush Republicans crashed the economy, bailed out corporate banks, and have spent the past three years obstructing jobs, economic recovery, and nearly caused the country’s first credit default. Republicans depend on all Americans to forget that policies like Romney is proposing are the source of the deficit, loss of jobs, and more tax cuts for the wealthy and regardless how much they lie, intelligent Americans will vote by what they know to be the truth, and not what Romney or any Republican liar tells them.