There is a tendency for citizens to become cynical about political promises that go unmet, undelivered benefits offered for support for leaders struggling in political contests. Those unfulfilled intentions might be forgiven when the realities of political opposition and controversy set in once they take office. But those unfulfilled intentions are not lies if the effort was made to accomplish what was promised. Most people understand that kind of failure. It threatens to cause more than occasional cynicism, something more corrosive than the expectation of resistance. It is a threat to the culture where cynicism is a possibility, where the difference that such an idea depends upon vanishes. Decent people don't lie.
The failure we are witnessing now is a moral failure. It does not depend on the contingencies of external circumstances, but emanates from the character of one man, whose habits of mind are evident every day. Without any regard for truth, we are witnessing a constant stream of self-aggrandizement, misrepresentations, and outright falsehoods presented to the public. Those are the characteristics of a person who is self-obsessed, the kind of person who cannot rationally engage in a thought process in which they are not at the center. This inability is a handicap that diminishes all citizens, not only those who are ignored.
Settled for $25 million to victims
Even those who are momentarily favored by such a tyrant must consider whether they too will be extorted and used to advance his interests, and not theirs. There are few opportunities more enticing for corruption than tariffs for select businesses, for friends, relatives, chauffeurs, caddies, whomever upon a whim suits a temporary convenience. So what? What difference does that make?
Can businesses make a deal on a handshake? Not anymore. Teams of attorneys make those arrangements in most important matters now. Trust, reliability, and confidence in performance go out the window when lying becomes the norm. When the rule of law is dubious, subject to whimsical interventions by unrelated, self-interested parties, deals fall through or do not get negotiated at all.
One of the key features of healthy economies is trust and predictability. Without those factors stably in place, businesses must hedge, be conservative in investments, in making long-term plans, to prepare for contingencies that would normally not be a problem. That's a waste of time, of attention, of creative energy. Nowhere in the world where there is chaos is there a prosperous, thriving population. More voters need to understand this. That's why we put this reading list together.