Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire in Presidential Elections

A liar in politics

Have you ever been called a liar? The accusation stings if you never or seldom lie. If you easily tell lies, you may just shrug off the insult. Our politics seems to be sliding ever further, ever easier, to a despicable level of lying.

Let’s back up the tape to consider the news we witnessed only ten years ago.

CNN reported when Representative Joe Wilson, attending President Obama’s 2009 state of the union address, yelled, “You lie!” Viewers were shocked at the outburst. Republican Senator McCain commented that the outburst was “totally disrespectful” and said Wilson should apologize.

We’re getting used to the lies—numb even.

030619 Liar

Jonah Engel Bromwich noted the congressional taunting in his article in the New York Times: ‘Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire’ and Other Contentious Exchanges from Cohen’s Congressional Hearing. Republican Arizona Representative, Paul Gosar, used the liar poster to accuse Cohen of being a liar and should neither be trusted nor even called as a witness. Representatives Jim Jordan from Ohio and Mark Meadows from North Carolina piled on similar accusations.

For his part, Mr. Cohen admitted he had lied—often—and referred to his past actions as that of a fool.

Political lying has become normal

Lying in Washington is certainly nothing new. Politicians have done so for years, centuries even. Since our memories don’t span that far, we notice the shift in decorum when lies (and liars) seem to currently multiply so freely.

Daniel Dale highlights Trump as a liar in the Toronto Star, providing an analysis that underscores the president’s ability to spin with ease. It’s almost become a bit of a parlor game to guess how many lies Trump will spew in any given day.

As a grandfather, I wonder if such role models affect our younger generations. What holds us to the value of truth anymore? Is the numbing feeling we have becoming a kind of callous that shields us from liars and drops our standards?

The lie we live with in presidential elections

Truth is often elusive. Though we may value our own truth telling, being indignant if we are ever called a liar, we actually tempt the moniker when we elect our presidents. We set truth aside and become comfortable with a lie that affects all of us, including generations to come.

The untruth—the lie—is the false voting results to which we have grown accustomed. Have you ever noticed how the popular vote of the nation does not seem to reflect the results we get from the Electoral College? The disparity seems to defy reason. Yet we live with, sometimes relishing, the wide gulf that emerges.

Some may rush to accuse the Electoral College of being at fault—of being the liar. Not so! Remember, the Electoral College is a system of genius that captures the popular vote as well as the individual state sentiments. It does so because our nation is a republic of states. In this, the Electoral College works to near perfection.

The disparity emerges because we encumber this system with the winner-takes-all obstacle we blindly add on. Because we do, votes cast for candidates who don’t win a plurality of votes in a given state are actually cast aside and not represented! It’s undemocratic. It forces us to live with a lie.

Equal Voice Voting removes the lie

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) removes the winner-takes-all burden and gives us a truthful voting result. Every vote is counted. Every viable presidential ballot gains representation in the Electoral College. (See the Equal Voice Voting formula.)

Each state can adopt Equal Voice Voting. There is neither a need for a national constitutional amendment nor a contrived compact agreement between states.

I analyzed the past 15 elections, on a state-by-state basis, showing voting results if EVV were used in every state. (See the State-by-State 2016 Analysis.) The results clearly show a marked improvement by significantly reducing voting results disparity.

EVV can easily be tested. Any state can adopt and try it for a few election cycles to test the results. Legislators need to simply add a sunset clause to the bill, forcing its reconsideration in a few years. It’s a practical consideration because actual voting results may shift, compared to the historical analysis, because of:

  • Increased voter turnout (More voters will likely become engaged, knowing their vote matters.)
  • Changes in campaign strategy (More campaign attention will likely be given to an individual state.)

Let’s remove the lie

We’ve lived with winner-takes-all long enough. Let’s be honest and expect greater honesty and transparency from our presidential voting system.

Otherwise, now that we’re aware that an honest voting system is a viable option, we must face what we’ll be called if we ignore it. Will we be called liars? Will anyone taunt us with, “Liar, liar, pants on fire?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *