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February 25, 2010, at 7:15 pm — Blogs / / / / / / / / / / / / /


On CNN’s iReport today I proposed the idea of a Truth Amendment to the Constitution that would require any and all elected officials to swear to tell the truth in the same manner anyone in a court of law may be required.

Too often our elected officials use their official positions to spin, stretch and sometimes out right lie about any given issue that may be in debate in government. Recent examples of hyperbole overtaking logic and prudence would be the “spin” that the Health Care legislation included “Death Panels” or that the census was dangerous. Neither of these positions hold water or merit and those who made those assertions I’m certain are well aware of that as well. These were statements made by politicians for the sake of political theatre and ear catching sound bytes that might lead to a stronger base for their party and the appearance, however false, that they were fighting for the little guy, or grandma. The real victim in all this is the American people and the Bills themselves.

In the real everyday world if someone lied about someone else or someone’s product it could be considered slander and legal action could be taken. No such protection exists for Bills put into congress. This allows members to stretch the truth when talking about Bills in a manner that may lead to any one Bill’s defeat or passage and stands firmly in the way of real debate about the actual merits and consequences, positive or negative, of that bill. This causes confusion in the electorate and consequently good ideas get pushed aside because of the chaos created by such inappropriate behavior.

Far too often I hear folks talk about how corrupt their government is and how politicians “are just that way”. And far too often I see folks vote in the same people again and again and then act surprised when the economy collapses or when we find ourselves at war with an enemy in a country that never attacked us.

I in no way think taking an oath means they’ll suddenly be on better behavior up on the hill but perhaps some consequences for deception could limit those improper impulses. If they can not prove that what they said about a specific bill was true then they could be censured, fined or removed from office or worse, barred from ever serving again.

This is our country and they work for us – and they need to tell us the truth. It will, however, be up to us to be listening.

Here’s the link to the video that appeared in part on CNN today:



  • Truth Amendment? You are an idiot. Regulation is the problem and if you cannot see that you get what you deserve. Yea bigger government ideas. Pooheads who want control is the problem. THAT IS NOT WHAT MADE AMERICA GREAT and is the reason things are hitting the fan. REGULAR PEOPLE know instinctively what is right and wrong and mandating it is exactly why we are in this quagmire.

    Fix Washington? Pay attention. No other way.

    We the people grow the cotton and wood, pulp it into paper, derive the ink from the earth, make the presses to print and coin AND THEN give it to central banks so they can lend it back to us (our blood and sweat) – AT INTEREST – do you not think we get what we deserve?

  • Jeremy Olsen


    Thanks for reading. We appreciate you not calling names here. Speak your thoughts on the topic all you like, but we feel personal attacks are counterproductive to any argument. If you’re here to present an argument, attacks just hurt you; people who are here just to attack you will be banned.

    That said, I understand the spirit of what you’re saying. The problem is that 6 billion people couldn’t live in the world together without some form of organization. If you removed all government right now, instantaneously, I feel certain that the ensuing chaos and fighting would lead people to band together to fight and to protect themselves, that this in turn would yield larger alliances with increasing focus on pursuing a better life with less fighting, and that eventually you’d work your way back to government. It’s a natural development of a highly intelligent species on a very crowded planet.

    So regulation is not the problem. Too much regulation is the problem, just as too little would be. This, however, is the constitution, and a properly written constitutional amendment is not regulation (or perhaps it is only minimally so). It is an expression of principle on which laws and legal interpretation can be based. Our constitution sets forth our rights, and laws protecting those rights have been passed. It establishes that the power to vote cannot be used to institutionalize slavery or segregation. So it isn’t far-fetched to me that we might also make it a constitutional expectation that dishonesty is not acceptable as a means or method for governing our country, and that it is sufficient grounds for punishing or removing a public servant.

    I think there are enormous practical problems with this, and at the very least I’d personally stand up for exceptions in matters regarding life-or-death situations (especially national security) and purely personal affairs. But the high concept sounds enticing and promising.

    I’m certainly not against vigilance. You’re totally right that we need to pay attention. An amendment like this doesn’t discourage that; it may actually encourage it by giving the people more power to act when they see a public servant getting away with wholesale deception of American citizens.

  • Jeremy Olsen

    Here’s my own rough draft, David. Horrible and full of holes, I’m sure. Tear it up:

    The people shall have recourse in the form of censure or recall of any public servant who uses willful dishonesty as the means to a political end, except in cases where the consequences of honesty include human casualty or catastrophic loss or ruin which could be considered greater beyond a reasonable doubt than the consequences of dishonesty, or cases where dishonesty concerns matters solely of personal scope.

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