Honesty in Politics

“There is no honesty in politics. ” 800-1000 words STYLE: Expository PROMPT: Cartoon 3 AUDIENCE: Those concerned about the consequences of political dishonesty. Six years ago I sat in a classroom, pondering a matter which has come of interest once more. There is no honesty in politics. Being faced with this subject brings me back to one of my noteworthy days from back in primary school; voting period for the ‘grade fivers and sixers’. We had just heard speeches from a team of brave year six students hoping for school captaincy. Most of the year six population voted for their buddies.

It was an easy choice for them. My year five self, however, relied on the quality of the speeches to dictate her vote. The person which I had voted ‘no. 1’ for still infuriates me today. She had promised to turn our basketball court into a swimming pool. It never happened. Which brings me back to the issue at hand, that there is no honesty in politics. It is hard to say to what extent this belief is valid. When one is running for a position of power, dishonesty is a tempting resource in order to maintain one’s ideal image, at least until elected.

But even when in the position of power, there are situations in which one could still feel compelled to lie for their own benefit. However, the honest candidate avoids the risk of expectation, and can draw from this his own advantages. Past events have shown us many examples of varying levels of honesty in politics. As in the case of my number one vote, had I been aware of the flaw in her promise, I’d have voted instead for the boy who rapped his speech for us.

Perhaps the most critical period for an aspiring leader are the days leading up to election, when he must keep up appearances. Shown blatantly in the film Wag The Dog by Barry Levison is the effort behind protecting one’s true image in the days before election in order to maintain and gain supporters. In the journey to power, dishonesty appears as an accommodating resource. Lies can protect one’s private life and turn one to the path of success. For example, promises which needn’t be kept until after election prove popular in government.

Barack Obama had proclaimed a promise for open government in 2008, but sadly his guarantee of honesty was embarrassingly dishonest. False words can also allow for a candidate to stand out from competitors. Many would recall Kevin Rudd’s promise to the year 9 to 12 students in 2007. A laptop each would’ve bought a few votes from parents concerned about their children’s education. To much disappointment this pledge remains false, however, it did bring Rudd the popularity he required. In general, one also lies in order to keep up a reputation until he is elected.

Political affairs are most susceptible to dishonesty during the period in which new power must be decided, ultimately supporting the idea that there is no honesty in politics. It has been said that along with great power comes great responsibility, and it is this notion that may put those in power under pressure to deceive. The rest test of great leadership comes with hard times and how they are handled. There have many historical examples of powerful leaders lying to their subjects to shelter themself. Well known novel, The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, has an in depth look into the makings of an ideal leader.

Though Machiavelli was not a prince, he was appointed to public office concerned with foreign affairs, diplomacy and war, giving him a great deal of knowledge of how state politics would perform during times of distress. At one point in his novel, Machiavelli puts forward that an intelligent prince would create the illusion of reliability. When discussing desirable-yet-harmful traits, Machiavelli states “if [a prince] only appears to have these traits, they may render him service”. More specifically he should only “appear to be… faithful to his word”.

A famous face of politics, Abraham Lincoln, once declared “politicians are a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people and… [are] at least one long step removed from honest men. ” Though honesty has not always been popular when in the field of power, it does not imply that honesty isn’t ever present power and politics. There are some that trust that honesty is the best policy, and in some cases this well known phrase does prevail. It cannot be disregarded that despite some pledges which go on forgotten, others do come into practice.

The Australian government has shown support that politics is not always a mistrustful game. In the past few years Australia has undergone much damage environmentally. In addition to the world wide dilemma of climate change, Australia has dealt with droughts, floods, bushfires, cyclones and more. Without the promised sufficient aid from the Rudd government, victims would not be able to recover as quickly from the impact. In just over a year after the Black Saturday bushfires, homes have been rebuilt and communities have come together to replenish what had been lost.

Even in Australia’s history, much evidence of honesty in politics has been shown. From 1910 to 1913, the Fisher government managed to pass 113 acts in just three years, showing commitment to our country and its people. These accomplishments have benefited the larger population, and reflect honesty of dedication on the part of the government in their effort to build a favourable future for Australia. This indicates the honest work of the government, in their fundamental assurance to always do what is most advantageous for the country. For these reasons, it is fair to conclude that there can be honesty in politics.

Hence, even as the year six rapper depicted a tempting choice for me, I cannot regret my school captain vote. Yes, my choice of leader had lied to us. But to be completely truthful, turning the basketball court into a pool was a terrible idea anyway. I can now see that I can’t disregard the fact that she had only used a tactic of deceit in her strive to achieve power, and such acts are hardly uncommon. When she had the title of school captain, it wasn’t frequently misused for her own gain, although I’m sure her influence on peers and teachers grew.

Furthermore, she had given us her word that she would be a role model to younger students and she would consider all student opinions before any drastic changes to affect us. I agree there was truth in that, and therefore I find in this given situation that there is honesty in politics. As a general statement, both sides can be argued effectively depending on the politics in question. I suppose it was my naive mindset of year five which allowed me believe that after that voting affair, there was no honesty in politics. Of course, this would explain why I hadn’t achieved school captaincy the year after.

July 1, 2017