Facts should come first

Would you turn in a paper for a history class and say California was one of the original thirteen colonies? No. Would you tell a professor, “I’m sorry I am late for class; my spaceship just wouldn’t start this morning”? Absolutely not. So why do politicians think they get a “free pass” when it comes to speaking the truth around election time?

It is a campaign manager’s job to get his or her candidate’s message across, not to spin the truth to make the other candidate look naïve and uninformed. The heads of these campaigns need to realize that the “spun truth” will come out to the public.

These lies can be little things, like vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan fibbing about how long it took him to run a marathon, or bigger issues like Republican candidate Mitt Romney approving an advertisement that includes false information about Obama’s welfare plans.

When, according to The Atlantic, Mitt Romney’s pollster Neil Newhouse said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” he was allowing liberal news anchors to mock him for weeks to come.

And it is not just liberals feeling that conservatives twist the truth to fit their platforms better. The liberal media is just as guilty of an occasional lie. According to TownHall.com, a conservative website and magazine, the left does its fair share of rewriting history, leaving holes in their arguments and backing their misleading statements up with made-up quotations from supposedly anonymous sources.

Does the campaign need to be “dictated by fact-checkers”? Undeniably. A politician will look foolish if he or she doesn’t run television advertisements or speeches by a fact checker before sharing it with the country.

Why would these politicians want their campaign message to be based on lies to begin with? It is junior-high behavior when a grown man or woman is too lazy to validate their information.

Twisting the truth makes it no longer the truth, no matter how much these politicians wish it. Say you turn in a religion paper. What if the professor sees it and says it looks too short to be the required length. If you fib and say the paper appeared longer on your computer, you just lied. While your lie was to one professor and not the country you aspire to be president of, it is still the sharing of false information. Politicians need to run a campaign as if with every lie they told, their noses would grow like Pinocchio’s. If you could clearly pick out the lies politicians try to get away with, the whole campaign process would be less petty and more centered on the issues facing the country.

Jocelyn Sarvady ’15 sarvady@stolaf.edu is from Atlanta, Ga. She majors in American studies with a concentration in family studies.