ed rosenthal
February 8, 2015

The sixth principle of political life is honesty.  To this point, I have been discussing flaws in a series of idealistic principles and giving my take in how to improve them.  This principle needs no improvement; politicians should be honest in their financial dealings; honest in their policy discussions (don't let ideology blind you to the flaws in a proposal) and honest when talking about their personal life.

However, there is a fundamental rule of politics, which I like to formulate this way: always tell the truth, but on any given occasion, you get to choose which part of the truth to tell.   This is not dishonesty; it's impossible to tell the whole truth; our memories aren't good enough for that.

Let me give you an example.   In my part of the world, the concept of a ban on hydraulic fracking to develop shale oil reserves is extremely popular.  It is a straightforward and easy to understand way to address the potential problem of contamination of the water supply.

The whole truth is: an absolute ban on fracking is unlikely to pass the state legislature, and if it did, it might well be vetoed by the Governor.   It is not dishonest to leave out these uncomfortable facts when talking about the issue.  It would be dishonest to leave them out if asked about the political prospects for a ban.

A blog about all the arts, including politics
"for 'twere absurd to think that nature in the earth bred gold, perfect in the instant;
there must be remote matter." - Ben Jonson
"I don't know what the question is, but art is the answer." - Guy Conner

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