Lies Cannot Drive Out Lies; Only the Truth Can do That

About a month ago Congressman Alan Grayson (a Democrat from the Florida 8th) stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and described the Republican’s idea of health care as “‘Don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.” While it would take a stretch of the imagination to say that more than a few Republicans have been interested in helping with the current health care legislation, it takes a fantastic level of cynicism to say that any United States Representative doesn’t care about human life at all and just prefers some folks die quickly.

Nonetheless, many liberals have held Congressman Grayson up as an idol in wake of these outlandish comments. He has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result and been praised by many (including himself) as a “Congressman with Guts.” I do not think this is because liberals are ideologically disposed to false accusations and name-calling; they are just tired of being called names.

There are those on the far right that have no trouble fitting into the same sentence the odd and often contradictory claims that President Obama is a socialist, a communist, a fascist and a racist. Liberals are tired of the lies that are coming from the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and many others. They are tired of hearing about “death panels” and claims that President Obama was born in Kenya. Apparently Congressman Grayson and his many supporters have decided it is time to fight fire with fire and time to make up crazy lies of their own. While perhaps there is some psychologically rewarding feeling that comes from this strategy, it is fundamentally the wrong path for the progressive message to go down.

First of all, these tactics diminish the possibilities of the debate and give up the moral high ground to which the progressive message holds dear. By praising this kind of rhetoric we merely embolden others to continue leading our country down a cynical path. We abandon the ideals that President Obama used to rally so many to progressive causes. We throw aside the idea that we can “disagree without being disagreeable;” we forsake our faith in honesty and transparency and we give up on hope in exchange for hatred and nasty lies.

Beyond the moral and ideological revulsion we should have toward these tactics, we must object to them because they are counter-productive to our cause. Every day we spend making up outrageous claims we lose credibility with moderates who become jaded and we miss the opportunity to educate the public with the truth. If we have sincere faith that our ideas are better than those of conservatives, then let us stand on our ideas. Ultimately, the best ideas are favored by an honest debate. Thus promoting a real debate is both good policy and good politics.

The cynics will argue that it is naive to think that positive messaging can be effective, but the cynics merely lack the vision and the fortitude necessary to find a better way. I doubt many would argue that if Gandhi and Dr. King had used Sun Tzu’s Art of War as their playbook the world would be a better place, but the cynics of their time gave them the same message we hear today.

Fortunately, they found a better way and so must we. For the problem with fighting fire with fire is the whole place burns down. As Dr. King told us: “Returning violence for violence multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I submit we add to that list that: lies cannot drive out lies; only the truth can do that. Lies and inflammatory statements from progressives don’t aid the cause they merely make the truth that much harder to bring into the light.

Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk.

Published in: on October 26, 2009 at 9:27 pm Comments Off on Lies Cannot Drive Out Lies; Only the Truth Can do That
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