For a Christian politician, finding right speech in the middle of an election is difficult to do. And in politics, negative campaigning works. Sure, it’s a lie, but it works. To highlight, an announcer in one of the Romney campaign commercial tells viewers:
“In 1996, President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it by requiring work for welfare. But on July 12, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping the work requirement. Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you a welfare check. And welfare-to-work goes back to being plain old welfare. Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works.“
The caveat, it’s a lie. But it works. Romney advertising strategist, Ashley O’Connor told an ABC News Forum “Our most effective ad is our welfare ad.”
The fact it’s a lie has not prevented Romney from continuing its use. When you’re trying to win a national office, an ad’s accuracy is irrelevant. The goal is not to make a legitimate critique, but to portray one party or another as willing to give some “undeserving” people handouts at the expense of hardworking taxpayers.
- Romney: that “there’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare” — “mostly false.”
- Romney: Promise to cut individual income tax rates without either favoring the wealthy or losing revenue isn’t mathematically possible.
- Obama: Mocks Romney’s tough talk about cracking down on China’s trade practices by saying “all he’s ever done is send them our jobs” and citing the Washington Post article. But the newspaper article contained no examples of U.S. jobs being shipped to China while Romney was working at Bain.
- Obama: casts Romney as a “corporate raider,” but that term, loaded with negative connotations, is simply inaccurate. Bain didn’t engage in hostile takeovers when Romney was at the helm.
- Both: An Obama spokeswoman says “benefits would go down” under the Medicare plan put forth by Ryan. Ryan says cuts in Obama’s health care law to the growth of spending “will lead to fewer services for seniors.” But actually, neither plan has much of a direct impact on current beneficiaries.
Yet I guarantee, both Romney and Ryan and Obama and Biden went to church today. To a person, each man stood in the pew, shook hands, listened to the sermon, took communion, prayed for forgiveness and lied about giving a damn.
Maybe we should just simply call it as it is. The Christian faith means nothing when you have a job that tells you to lie each and every day. If you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians, you are just begging to be lied to. They won’t all lie to you but a lot will. And it will be the easiest lie they ever had to tell to get your votes.
As a Buddhist, I believe that Buddhism should stand on the side of justice in accordance with the principles of the Dharma. How can one close one’s eyes in meditation of calmness while we intentionally distort and lie to our community? As a Buddhist, we need to speak out against injustices. But I will never take sides of power. The end of the election cycle does not justify the means taken to obtain the position.
Be aware of “right speech.”