Every civilization is built on a foundation of words. Words are (or were) the measure of a person. As I was growing up in small mill town in Western Pennsylvania, I learned you judged people by how good their “word” was. Wealth, talent, strength, the car you drove, and the girls you dated were important, but nothing was as valuable as the reliability of your word. Your reputation in all fields depended upon the integrity of your word. Once that was gone, it was nearly impossible to get it back. I submit that it is the same with nations, political parties, politicians, and leaders.
I don’t believe that modern-day politicians value the integrity of the words they speak and print. This is dangerous; without truth and honesty, our freedom is at risk. The end does not justify the means. Administrations based on the principles espoused by Lenin, Goebbels, or Alinsky have not lasted. On the extreme right, we find dictatorship of the oligarchies; on the extreme left we find equally ugly dictatorships. Both use words or propaganda to further their goals. The truth does not matter to them. It is good to distort the truth as long as the lies promote the end. The end in political terms is the goal of creating a just and fair society where the rulers know what the people need and use whatever means are necessary to achieve and protect their utopia.
History has seen many examples of a few believing they – not the people – know best. How did that work for the Nazis, the various communist regimes, experiments in socialism and Islam, and for several other ancient empires? They did not leave much behind, except fading memories of ugly repression. None of them could stand the truth. They all used words to further their causes and beliefs. The theory that “the end justifies the means” reigned supreme. Freedom is the final casualty when words are only a means to an end. How can you believe anyone, especially a politician struggling to hold on to power, who doesn’t care or even think about the consistency of his word?
The word of the leaders of a great nation, like the United States, both in domestic areas and foreign affairs must carry the weight of truth and conviction. When leaders change positions, not because of a changed conviction, but merely to support a more expedient political policy, the power of their word is lost. Their conviction is suspect. Foreign powers study the words of our leaders. When they see no consistency or willingness to back words and convictions with action, they will disregard the words of our leaders. Our friends will no longer trust us. The possible examples are nearly unlimited but here are a few.
Remember our secretary of state saving she viewed Assad of Syria as a reformer and only months later was calling for him to abdicate? Remember the president changing words, without a believable change in conviction, over tax issues, war strategy, medical care, and budget issues?
The end justifying the means is the most probable explanation. What does their word mean? Can you trust it? Reading the words of Saul Alinsky, a radical revolutionary writer and former Community Organizer in Chicago, will help you understand. Both our president and secretary of state are familiar with Mr. Alinsksy’s writing. Maybe you should be also.