Chapter 6 - No Lying
Americans are tired of the partisan bickering in Washington, but that doesn’t mean we want our politicians to stop fighting for what they (and we) believe in. We just want them to fight fair—to follow the same rules we teach our children: not to lie, not to cheat, and not to steal. We want our leaders to serve with integrity. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the only way to get Washington out of gridlock.
When I say “no lying,” I’m not talking about whether politicians are telling the truth about their past, about who they’ve taken money from, or about who they have or haven’t slept with. Of course we want our leaders to be honest, but when it comes to the dysfunction in our democratic institutions, the “lies” I’m talking about are ideological campaign pledges. The classic example is the pledge “no new taxes.”
What’s wrong with ideological campaign pledges, you might ask? Don’t we want—even need—to know what candidates will do once in office? Not if those pledges prevent our leaders from solving our nation’s problems, I would argue.
Yes, we need to know what candidates believe in, what they’ve accomplished, what problems they hope to solve, and what types of approaches they generally favor. But ideological pledges often go too far because they back politicians into a corner, with no room to move. Simplistic pledges that sound good on the campaign trail quickly run up against the complexities of governing once in office. Would a business hire a manager who pledges to never cut prices, or never raise them? To never hire another employee, or never fire one? To never close a factory, or never open a new one? Of course not; smart businesspeople know that the best leaders are those who can adapt to continually changing conditions.
We need members with the courage to lead, not follow...[Purchase the book here to keep reading]