These days, everyone wants to be a good liar. After all, that’s the way to get ahead in life. Right? You might think you’re already a seasoned veteran liar after fooling your boss or wife or friends, but are you ready for the Big Leagues?
No, I’m not talking about selling Chevys or Fords or Winnebagos. I’m talking about learning to lie like a professional politician.
This brief tutorial will be enough to get you started by giving you the basics. You won’t be a master, but you’ll start seeing the principles if you pay attention.
In the advanced course, we’ll also cover the brilliance of promising “energy independence,” as performed by presidents going back to Nixon and Carter; promising “no new taxes,” as brilliantly performed by George Bush I; and “free drugs for old people,” as performed by George Bush II. The advanced course has an entire section devoted to the brilliance of Bill Clinton, too. My apologies to these other great liars — and many more — for not being able to show full appreciation for all of their work in this brief introductory course.
So let’s get started with the most important single point you will learn in this guide:
Tell people what they want to hear, no matter what the truth is. People don’t want to pay taxes, but they also don’t want spending they like reduced, so tell them that you can keeping spending money like crazy and give them lower taxes. It’s really simple. In other types of situations, just ask yourself what people want — and then promise that. (Polls are really useful to campaigns in this way.) For instance, if polls show that your potential voters are concerned about education, promise to “fix schools.” It’s good to be fairly vague about how you’re going to do this. If your target voters are Democrats, promise to spend more money on schools. If your target voters are Republicans, promise to fire bad teachers and destroy union bosses. (Don’t worry about the fact that you can’t do those things. Trust me on this.) This leads to Step 2.
Ignore obvious questions about the facts. In our example about spending and tax cuts, we all know that a president can’t just magically lower taxes, but we know the biggest part of the lie is that the president can’t — absolutely under any circumstances — reduce real spending. Nobody with a brain believes otherwise. So does this mean the lie isn’t credible or useful? Of course not. You can deal with unfortunate reality later. Once you’re elected, you can claim the situation has changed or (even better) that your opponents’ unwillingness to co-operate with you has caused things to get worse. You never have to worry about things not going the way your predictions said they would. There’s always an acceptable excuse. People will believe anything you tell them. Why? Let’s move to Step 3.
Express complete confidence in your lie and never admit to any error. This is one of the most important lessons you can learn, so please pay close attention to performances of this by two recent presidents. A true professional politician will stick with his fantasy no matter what. If you say something long enough, people will eventually believe it. (Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels famously called it The Big Lie.) People do not want a leader who admits errors or grows in his understanding. Instead of seeing it as learning from mistakes, they’ll call it “waffling.”
If you’ll follow these three simple steps — and ignore the silly naysayers who try to bring up objections based on logic — you’ll be well on your way to lying your way out of any situation. With enough practice, you could even be elected to your local city council and then work your way up to a state legislature or even Congress. When you learn to lie this way, the sky’s the limit.
Here’s one final word of caution. Never ask yourself about the consequences of the lie, because that’s a route that leads to self-reflection and potential honesty. This will kill your political career and damage almost anything else you’re trying to accomplish.
Yes, it’s true that the results of all of this lying will ultimately destroy people around you and your credibility and maybe even an entire nation, but isn’t that a small price to pay for immediate success?