Why Do We Lie? When We’re Afraid Of The Truth

03 Sep

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) is confident that comprehensive health reform will be passed before the end of the year, according to a recent Washington Post article. Maybe it will or maybe it won’t. What actually struck me in reading the article is the following quote from Sen. Baucus:

“I think the shelf life of the negative myths and the shrill negativism is pretty short here. I think these negative myths are losing their punch.”

Well, I certainly hope so, but I’m not so sure. But, let’s back up. Why are so many on the right making such preposterous claims? Wait. Let’s not make what they’re doing sound so fancy. Why are so many Republicans lying to the American people? Let’s dissect that point. Why are people lying to other people? Why do people lie? You and I are people. Why do we lie?

Lying isn’t something that you learn to do only after you’re elected to Congress. In fact, the cynics among you probably think that lying skills are a prerequisite to being elected, but that’s not my point here. Think about it. Children lie from a very early age. It’s practically innate. What causes children to lie? Usually because they are afraid. Afraid of what? The truth. Consider two examples:

Scenario 1
Billy is playing ball in the house with his friend. Billy accidentally knocks a lamp to the floor, and the lamp breaks. Suddenly, hearing the noise, Billy’s mother walks in the room and asks “Billy, what happened?”

Scenario 2
Billy is sitting on the couch watching TV. Billy’s sister is chasing the family dog around the room when suddenly she trips on the lamp’s cord, yanking it to the floor with her as she falls. The lamp breaks, and Billy’s mother enters the room as before, asking “Billy, what happened?”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Billy is much more likely to lie to his mother in the first scenario than the second one. Why? Because Billy knows the truth in both cases, but he is only afraid of the truth in the first case, wherein he was doing something he shouldn’t have been, is personally responsible for breaking the lamp, and knows that his mother is likely to punish him. In the second case, Billy can tell his mother exactly what happened, and he knows that she isn’t likely to punish him, because he wasn’t involved.

So, back to the original question: Why are Republicans lying to Americans about health reform? Because they know the truth, and they are afraid of it. That begs the questions: What is the truth and why are they afraid of it. We saw from Billy’s example that personal responsibility is central to the fear. This case is no different. Republicans know that the country needs health reform. They know that Democrats are trying to give it to them. They know that they can’t honestly oppose the bills in Congress because there’s nothing in them that’s unfavorable to the majority of Americans. So, they have to cover up the truth, because if they don’t, they’re worried that it will make them look bad, and cause them to lose big politically. After all, if reform was so bad, they wouldn’t have to invent things that are wrong with it. They can’t do that, though. So they lie.

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Posted by on September 3, 2009 in Uncategorized


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