Monday, April 7, 2014

How Many Half-Walkers Make One Lie?

Wendy Davis, the darling of women’s rights crusader’s for her dramatic filibuster in opposition of curtailing abortion services in Texas, has come under fire for making some ‘inaccurate’ statements regarding her struggles as a young single mother.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way: No two ways about it, being a single mother at any age is difficult. Couple that with recent family-unfriendly policies adopted in many states and the country overall such as shifting tax burdens onto the backs of the poor; large, super-profitable businesses hiring people for part-time as opposed to full-time work to avoid paying higher wages and providing benefits such as paid time off and healthcare, etc. and the basic and necessary work of parenting becomes harder than people who’ve never had to deal with those burdens could know.

I am not knocking Wendy Davis because she was a single mother.

I am knocking her because, like far too many public servants,  she's played with the truth.

She’s had to backpeddle from initial statements that portrayed her more sympathetically than the truth can support. We’ve seen this too many times in the past to let exaggerations, embellishments, and (in some cases) outright lies to slide past us and into our social sub-consciousness:
  •  One President wasn’t a crook, and then was;
  • A different one didn’t trade arms for hostages, and then, yes, he did;
  • Another one didn’t have sex with ‘that woman’, and then, did;
  • One isn’t gay, just has a ‘wide stance’;
  • This politician claimed a world-class marathon time, but not really;
  • Another closed a bridge, didn’t close a bridge, just found out about it, and knew about it all along. Very, very, busy, man.

The point of the list is that we, the people, have heard this sort of thing too often to fall for it anymore. We should never accept it from anyone.

We know that politicians have smart people around them advising and parsing each utterance to be spoken. So, how do we drill down deeper to more fully understand why this happens?

When “It is What It Is” isn’t enough, exaggeration and embellishing follow. And politicians are people too. I think. However, they need to be accepted more than your average person-on-the-street.

They need it because they need votes. Joe Six-pack doesn’t need your vote.

Yet, for myself, whenever I hear someone in office or running for office make a factually distorted remark (I call it pulling a ‘Half-Walker’), I immediately rethink my thinking regarding prior thinking about that person. Or so I think.

If I (or you) can’t trust someone to report accurately about things that are easily discovered independently, how can I (or you) trust them to do the right thing when the public eye is not focused on them? I can’t. Can you?

Now, I know that some will see this as an attack on Wendy Davis because she’s an advocate for women’s issues. There is nothing I can say to dissuade them otherwise. And, really, it’s not so much a criticism of Ms. Davis as it is a criticism of the way we, the public, are seemingly never satisfied with a regular story of overcoming obstacles.

The backstory now has to be larger than life.

The thing that gets me the most is that Davis really didn’t need to embellish anything. Raising a child is hard work under the best of circumstances with a fully committed partner and several magnitudes harder by yourself.

We need, more than ever before, honesty and integrity in our leaders. We need our leaders to strive for excellence and to lead by example. Wendy Davis has failed that test. She tried to pull a Half-Walker. To her credit she has admitted as much, yet her admission speaks of ‘tightening’ her language, another Half-Walker.

It’s been said that the truest test of character is when you do the right thing even when know is looking.