Distrust and Politics

Discussions about political controversy has become scarce throughout the years. As the subject of political matters create a tense atmosphere in social settings in a way they have not always before. In today’s world, the political sides are almost viciously pitted against one another, and it can even be a means to end a relationship over a difference in views. As I watch this happen in real time, I wonder if this is a result of the toxic manipulation tactics that are embedded within government politics. Politicians are known to be liars and manipulators, able to capture the attention of their viewers and convince them that they can be trusted to make decisions for this country.

I would argue that much of the disunity in this country is rooted in the buildup of instigation from political leaders. Rather than try and diffuse the tension between parties, politicians often play on it. They thrive off targeting candidates of other parties in their campaigns to start drama. Along with this, many politicians are often unreliable. They make passionate statements about the changes they will make in their speeches prior to elected, but once they have secured the position those commitments seem to be forgotten.  Their lack on following through with campaign promises, and the skewed way of speaking in with they communicate messages causes tension amongst parties. Overtime, the public has grown more frustrated over the differences in opinions and political leaders do nothing to appease the anger. In the article, “Dramatization as method in political theory,” written by Iain Mackenzie, the concept of politicians utilizing dramatic behavior to manipulate is explored.

We will argue that dramatization is a method aimed at determining the quality of political concepts by ‘bringing them to life’, in the way that dramatic performances bring to life the characters and themes of a play-script. We demonstrate that this can be specified in relation to the development of this method in Deleuze’s early philosophical work as a practical, critical and artistic method and, in relation to the ontological assumptions he articulated and defended in Difference and Repetition, as a process of intensification of the Idea of the political.”

Aside from politicians using drama to inflate the loyalty of their followers, politicians are also often generally untrustworthy people. It is almost as if overtime, the environment that they are required to work in mold them into habitual liars. Many politicians can lie to the public or tell a half-truth without batting an eye. In the article, “How do politicians get so comfortable with lying? One theory: practice,” written by Brian Resnick, the idea that practice in the political field makes a perfect liar is elaborated. Resnick proposes first that it could be a result of “emotional adaptation.” 

“It’s similar to what happens when you’re exposed to a strong smell,” Resnick said. “At first the smell is extremely noticeable, but eventually you stop noticing it as much. With time, any stimulus — a loud noise, a strong perfume, etc. — is likely to provoke a smaller response. The same goes with lying. We get desensitized to our own lying as the areas of our brain that correlate with negativity become less active. This makes it easier for us to lie in the future, the study concludes.”

I find it highly unsettling that this country is run by people who are desensitized to the guilt of lying and manipulation. Politicians that thrive off creating campaigns that pit civilians against each other. People who use drama to amplify the support of their followers. I am not alone in this, as many Americans are beginning to pick up on these tactics. In the article, “Is US a nation of liars? Casey Anthony isn’t the only one,” published on The Christian Science Monitor, the reality that this country is run by habitual liars is addressed. 

Ethicists say there is, in some cases, moral justification for not quite living up to George Washington‘s ‘I cannot tell a lie’ maxim. But the recent spate of lying scandals nevertheless hints at a deeper problem, some say: that serious lies and outright cheating have gotten so pervasive – or at least so well publicized – that they no longer register for many as a moral failing. Yet the justice system, the political system, and even democracy itself can’t function if they’re built on a foundation of fibs, insist legal experts, ethicists, and others.”

As much as I would love to have the confidence to say that a change is on the horizon for this country’s governmental system, I do not know that these habits could ever truly be reformed. It is embedded in the skin of the craft, and it seems to me that there is not one politician in the field that can say with complete truthfulness that they have never lied or stretched the truth to gain public trust. Overtime, I predict that this will only get worse and maybe even more undetectable as politicians continue to finetune their tactics.