Maybe it is just me, but I am really not pleased with the manner of public discourse in our nation. It seems as though the concept of basing ones' arguments on the truth has taken that proverbial long walk off of a short pier. In my opinion, new lows are being set almost weekly (daily) with regard to the manner in which our political leaders, at all levels, treat the truth with a seemingly cavalier regard. I am not accusing them of lying, but their grasp of what constitutes the truth is slipping badly.
As a lad growing up in the 1950's, I was imbued with the spirit of truth as a cornerstone of my moral compass. Mom and Dad seemed to specialize in catching my brother and I when we played fast and loose with the facts. Let me assure you that my folks were proponents of the old spare the rod and you spoil the child approach to discipline, so the lessons stuck with Bob and me.
This education was carried further by the leaders in my Cub Scout pack and my Boy Scout troop. When you were given a task, you were expected to complete that task without a wide array of excuses. The same held true with my football, wrestling, and track and field alliances. Somewhere along the way it is possible that I began to drift off the centerline of the truth highway a bit, but by and large I remain a strong proponent of truth as the underpinning of our critical work within the fire service.
Sadly, I do not see the same sort of allegiance to the truth when it comes to the world of political discourse. I can recall the occasions when political people, whom I trusted, became proponents of the bait and switch style of marketing used so successfully by the people who have sold electronics along the highways and byways of Northern New Jersey for many years now.
Are you old enough to remember the old perfume commercial where the soothing, romantic voice sounded forth urging you to, "… promise her anything, but give her Arpege?" This is an ad pitch which has been around in one form or another for many decades. As a younger man, I succumbed to the lure of this commercial with some sadly negative results. It was only when my wife applied the perfume in question that I discovered the fact that this aroma made me sneeze. So much, then, for me trying to take advice from a perfume commercial.
Let me suggest that a number of politicians have used this advertising phrase as the jumping off point in their devious attempts to remain in office. My research seems to indicate that their new motto is something along the lines of, "… promise them anything and then once you are elected, screw them." Perhaps I have been a cynic in my latter day, but that is what I believe I have seen.
The examples of this attitude abound, starting with the palaver which was foisted upon us at the 2009 Fire Caucus Dinner. A parade of political people put forth a list of promises which included just about everything, with the exception of Arpege. Of course as the events of that year played out, we had to battle to maintain our key fire programs. It is at times like this that I am glad that I carry a small notebook within which to capture the promises of the speakers at these events.
It seems to me that all across America we are encountering situations where people, who have absolutely no idea of what we in the fire service really do, telling us how to do our jobs. One thing that you and I must remember is that it is not just us they are pushing around. They are doing the same thing to our associates in all of the other public sector disciplines. These people believe that they are empowered, by dint of being elected, with divine knowledge bestowed upon them directly from the heavens above. Why else is could it be that we have people that never even managed a dog pound telling us how to do our jobs?