November 25, 2022

Do Utah political candidates value truth and honesty?

Our main political conflict is between power and moral integrity.

(AP Photo) In this Oct. 16, 1969, photo from Lafayette Park, peace marchers pass side by side in front of the White House during an hour-long candlelit procession marking the end of Peace Moratorium Day. Vietnam to Washington.

At one time, Utah had a fairly even split between the Democratic and Republican parties. Democrats Calvin Rampton and Scott Matheson served long periods as governors of Utah. Before Republican Orrin Hatch, Frank Moss was a successful Democratic senator from Utah.

There is a theory in some political thought that history takes place in repeatable cycles. The re-emergence of neo-Nazism could be an example. It’s all the more disturbing because my own parents fought to crush Nazism during World War II. But with each new generation, if the lessons of history are not learned, our societies end up repeating mistakes that could have been avoided.

Modern citizens often do not perceive historical errors. For example, conservatives and Republicans have often seen the 1950s as a social and political ideal to which to return. They may not remember how the rebellious 1960s followed the conservative 1950s. Considering the conservative 2020s (which is debatable), should we expect a rebellious 2030s?

Yet the arguments against repeating history are strong. With ever-increasing world populations, societal circumstances are constantly changing and new situations are always arising.

One of the main characteristics of the 1960s was the popularity of academic philosophy. Each bookstore had large sections of books by Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Mill, Marx and Sartre. Are these names familiar to anyone now?

In 1968, France (and several other countries) experienced large student demonstrations threatening their government with the possibility of a neo-Marxist revolution. Reading Karl Marx was very popular. The study of theories of ethics, morals and politics was essential. Societal conditions were often chaotic with the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests.

Logic and morality went hand in hand. Questions were asked about the positions of each candidate. Were they telling the truth about Vietnam? Were they honest with the public? Were our leaders consistent in what they said? Did their actions match their words? Did they have a character that valued virtue and patriotism?

Years later, American generals were discovered to have lied or twisted their reports to the Americans to continue the war. Could they have saved American lives if they had been more honest with us, the President and our representatives in Congress?

Today we face the same questions. Do our candidates in Utah value truth and honesty? Or are they enamored with what Marxists call the “personality cult”? Do they believe in doing what is right for the people, or do they place power over the common good?

These questions are particularly important today because with Donald Trump we lived four years where veracity was sacrificed to his thirst for power and glory. The “truth” was leaned towards political advantage.

We need to ask ourselves if our candidates for the Senate and the House of Representatives appreciate the truth and understand that the 2020 election was not Fly?

Existentialism is one of the important philosophies to come out of the 1960s. The word is now most commonly used in the phrase “existential threat”, indicating the possibility of a horrific crisis. But the philosophy of existentialism was more broadly about dealing honestly with all aspects of life, whether good or bad. If you make a mistake, you acknowledge it and deal with it honestly.

Trump could have been a great president if he hadn’t lied so much, blamed others for his mistakes, accused his opponents of the same wrongdoings he had committed. When a leader refuses to admit his mistakes or his wrongdoings, he creates an imaginary world for his followers who are then likely to believe in any fantastic conspiracy.

Morally and politically a person who does not admit his transgressions is a weak person and as a leader he is a weak leader no matter how much blustering rhetoric he spews out. Are our representatives from Utah strong enough to be existentialists?

Our main political conflict is between power and moral integrity. This is made more difficult by negative political advertisements. All a person can do is try to get to know a candidate as well as possible and assess their background. But this year, don’t vote for someone who still believes in the “big lie”.

Gary Leimback is a writer from Utah who has studied philosophy extensively and still appreciates its importance to our society.