Since we are in midst of a campaign season for the US presidential race, which has been going on forever and we have yet to even cross the halfway point, the real loser in the race has been the truth. In fact, the current leader in the polls on the Republican side has been untruthful 76% of the time (out of 77 adjudicated statements) per Politifacts, a non-partisan fact checking organization. If you are a betting person, the odds would be in your favor not to believe a word he says.
That does not mean the other candidates have not made exaggerations and told a few lies, but Politifacts said the GOP leader has lapped the field. In this crazy race where the attack on political correctness has permitted candidates to be more candid, it would be nice if the candor included more truths. A candid lie told with false bravado is still a lie. But, what do I know? Call me crazy, but I think the truth should be told, and when a falsehood is discovered, the teller should be accountable and correct the record.
A few hard truths for the candidates, supporters and voters:
- There is little that we can do to stop a motivated terrorist who is willing to lose his or her life on our shores, given our freedoms and open access to weapons. All of us need to be vigilant to report something that looks out of the ordinary and our police need to react swiftly as they did in San Bernardino to locate the culprits to prevent more violence. Our police and intelligence are doing great work, but what scares them most is the under-the-radar extremists.
- To this first point, the war is on intolerance and extremism, not religion or race. We must live up to our ideals and constitution. We must involve all Americans in this fight against terrorism and not denigrate groups of people. While being vigilant, we must not blow this out of proportion as being done in the presidential race where several have equated it to World War III. Really? These candidates are scaring people into voting for them, but these folks should listen carefully to what the candidates are saying, as they do seem to be making us less safer with less than thoughtful rhetoric.
- On the good side, the US economy continues to percolate and 2016 is expected to be a good year. This is evidenced by one of the longest successful runs with 70 consecutive months of job growth, unemployment down to 5%, a more than doubled stock market capitalization since the recession and the Federal Reserve raising interest rates. We still need to work on wage growth and middle class, but these have been maligned since the early 1980s with outsourcing, offshoring, downsizing, and technology.
- The world is making progress in the battle to limit the impact of climate change. The Paris deal is key, but only part of the story. We have reached a tipping point on renewable energy as the cost has fallen and the awareness of the need has risen. Innovation is creating new paths forward and the glut on oil and natural gas has caused those prices to fall which has halted further investment in more costly retrieval of fossil fuels. Plus, the droughts are showing the world that we have a water crisis that will only be made worse by climate change. So, the time to act in a larger way is now as waiting is no longer an option.
- On the good side, we are working with other countries to try to solve challenges, such as the refugee crisis, terrorism, corruption (where we can), poverty and lack of women’s rights. Opening trade markets with Iran and Cuba are positives that will pay dividends. It is harder to fight someone you have commerce with. And, freer ideas can find their way in. I am actually delighted to see Russia working with us to address terrorism in the Middle East. Terrorism and corruption are the destabilizers there. We must deal with the former first, but not forget the latter. And, entrepreneurialism is helping more women build income in places around the world. Women hold up half the sky says the Chinese proverb, so investing in women will pay huge dividends for a region.
I am encouraged by the progress that is being made. I wrote a post last week about “Year-end Kudos,” but let me restate that the work Pope Francis is doing is immense. He is the greatest, most trusted leader on the planet and he is shining a light on where it needs to be shown. While Angela Merkel is very deserving of her Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, it is the Pope who has shown us our humanity. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will see they face of God,” I read somewhere. Happy holidays to all and have a wonderful new year.