Editor’s note: We’re so used to spinning the facts to create our own reality we don’t know the truth from a lie anymore.
This history, however, provides not so much an explanation of how we got here as a description of our progress (or rather decline). This history shows that the public has gotten more tolerant of political deception, but it does not tell us what was happening in the culture that would lead to such tolerance. We must ask ourselves: what was going on in the lives of ordinary Americans that would foster this decline in seriousness about truth-telling?
In an earlier essay for Public Discourse, I argued that the sexual revolution has been advanced by a certain kind of dishonesty, since its promoters have won so many of their victories by denying, or distracting the public from, the consequences that would follow from the principles it laid down. The use of that dishonesty would certainly foster a casual attitude toward truth-telling among political activists, and may, to that extent, have contributed to a culture of lying. Still, since these tactics were used by the few and to deceive the many, we do not here have an explanation of how the many came to be so indifferent to the truth. For an explanation, we must consider the consequences of the sexual revolution in the lives of ordinary Americans. Those consequences, I contend, have necessarily undermined our commitment to truth.
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Wait ‘Til It’s Free