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: