U.S. military forces have spent a decade fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, but most Americans still don’t have a clear idea why those wars happened. What’s worse, it’s considered unacceptable in some circles to tell the truth about why terrorists from the Middle East attacked the United States 10 years ago. People honestly prefer to remain in the dark about it.
When the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 happened, it was understandable that many people were emotional and frightened. I can even understand — if not condone — the fact that many Americans were willing to support irrational foreign and military policies under such stress. But I have no sympathy for people who refuse to face the truth after this long.
Republican presidential contender Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who’s been trying to have an honest, adult conversation about why the terrorist attacks happened and why the two wars happened. Shamefully, voters are showing clearly that they don’t want to hear him. In the CNN Tea Party debate Monday, Paul was booed when he outlined why certain groups are upset with the United States. It’s not that they have facts to indicate that he’s wrong. They merely don’t like the truth that he has the temerity to speak.
In the first campaign I ever ran — when I still knew nothing of the correct tactics for winning an election — we talked about nothing but issues. We issued white papers. We ran ads outlining detailed proposals that could be easily implemented to make huge improvements for the city. (A friend was running for mayor of Birmingham.) We ran a serious and credible campaign with honest proposals to solve problems. My guy got something less than 5 percent of the vote.
Two years later, we ran the same candidate in the city, but this time we took the opposite approach. I’d learned a thing or two about how the game worked. We didn’t say a word about policy. We didn’t make any proposals. We didn’t say anything serious. The entire message of the campaign could be summed up with, “I’m a nice guy. Vote for me.” He won pretty easily.
American voters don’t want serious and honest discussion of complicated problems. They want false saviors to “tickle itching ears” with things that don’t make sense, but which appeal to the desires of the voters to get something for nothing. The last thing they want is the truth.
I’ve written before about why Ron Paul isn’t going to be elected president. Even if it weren’t for the factors that I wrote about then, though, there’s another issue. Paul tells the truth about controversial and complicated issues. He treats his listeners as though they’re adults, not as though they’re children. He tells them ugly truths rather than pandering to the voters’ base desire to be lied to.
And here’s the bottom line about why no serious candidate is going to win. Voters don’t want to hear the truth. They want candidates to tell them what they want to hear. The last thing they want is an honest discussion of complicated issues. The Ron Pauls of the world — few though they may be — don’t have an honest chance with the majority, now or ever.
If you believe that voters are going to suddenly wake up and start acting like adults, you’re betting against all of the evidence. So if you believe in freedom, why do you keep expecting a majoritarian system to produce anything other than what it’s always produced?