When the truth (and democracy) doesn’t matter but we pretend it does

As a society, we frequently pretend we care about honesty and freedom. We frequently pretend we care about other people. But, when we recognize tangible evidence, we can easily see what actually matters.

During the Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing with Jeff Sessions, I was captivated by three overwhelming things.

First, the chair and voice chair each had 10 minutes. Members had 5 minutes. Each person’s time limit includes any questions or comments by the member and responses to those by Sessions. Such time limits, while very common, are arguably unconstitutional. 2 and 3 minute time limits are especially common if members of the general public are allowed to voice opinions at public hearings. Such artificial and very limited time constraints clearly violate freedom of speech. Naturally, some kind of time limit is necessary, but 10 or 15 minutes would be much more reasonable.

Second, when people are limited to seconds the logical extension is that the truth and democracy do not actually matter. Nothing meaningful can be established in just a few minutes. 5 minutes is not always enough to even say hello. Such time limits actually make a mockery of everything involved. We are given the appearance that something might change or something might be revealed but time constraints make that impossible. Although cliché, the important decisions happen in secret behind closed doors and the only question that ultimately matters is what will benefit the very privileged?

Third, during today’s hearings Sessions was clearly angry and hostile when pressed. It also seems very likely that he was lying most of the time. Politicians lie often, as do others. They are sworn to tell the truth but they don’t. And it seems like no one actually expects them to tell the truth either. (Interestingly, studies show that people who invoke sacred texts, theology, or higher powers in their promises are the most likely to not uphold those promises.) Again, the process is a mockery. I have been in a small handful of situations where a person was lying and others knew said person was lying but it didn’t matter because of this person’s position. Why have we come to essentially require lying from people in positions of power?

Why have so many accepted such horrible, dishonest situations?

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda