A song lyric taken from Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore tells us, “Things are seldom what they seem, Skim milk masquerades as cream.” We have been told all our lives that looks aren’t everything, all that glitters is not gold, and don’t judge a book by its cover. Yet we live in confusing times, because ad agencies, whose stock in trade is selling success, have convinced our generation that appearances are everything.
This credo is vital to politicians seeking election and reelection — as important as good campaign funding. Fifty years ago, history was made with the first televised presidential debate. Those who listened to the debate on radio tended to feel Nixon won, while those who saw it on TV tended to feel Kennedy won, because Nixon looked worse than Kennedy. Ever since then, politicians have studied and been coached in the art of making a good appearance.
Making a good appearance is part Looking good and part sounding good. But when making a good appearance, what you say isn’t as important as how you say it. The whole point is to get people to like you, to trust you and believe in you. Then they will vote for you. Sounding good has come to dominate campaign strategy to the point of minimizing the actual substance of what politicians speak about. They tend to use sound bytes that will work well in news clips. They use certain “code words” or talking points like a mantra , designed to be repeated by the talking heads and echoed by the man on the street. The goal of politicians is to market themselves as you would any product, so that the public will buy it.
Some say that’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it always will be. I’m not so sure. Is it wise to place our lives and progeny in the hands of politicians whose words beguile us while their actions betray us? Is it acceptable for our lawmakers to have an agenda that cares for everyone but the majority? Our constitution has designed our government to represent the will of the people — the consent of the governed. Our laws are supposed to represent what most of us want. What principle of Democracy is evinced by a congress that passes a comprehensive health care bill in the face of public opposition by the majority of Americans? What kind of representational government refuses to enforce immigration laws, thereby enabling the disintegration of our border security?
Our government’s concern for global agreements and international relations override issues that directly impact our own citizens. Unchecked illegal immigration has created consequences largely ignored by government at the national level. Diseases are being brought into our nation across our borders. Schools struggle to cope with increasing numbers of children born to illegals who don’t even speak English. Hospitals, especially emergency rooms that provide medical care to illegals, are struggling under the burdens placed on them. Our prisons are overflowing. One third of our prison population is comprised of illegals. American cities increasingly must deal with the influx of Mexican gang crimes, which go beyond drugs to prostitution, murder and gang warfare. And when the state of Arizona passed their own law designed to implement the enforcement of existing federal law, the Obama administration sued to have it repealed.
Six centuries before the birth of Christ, Aesop wrote, “Appearances are often deceiving.” When it comes to politicians, their appearances are almost always deceiving. So what can voters do, now that we find ourselves in a world of crumbling infrastructure, decaying morals and our culture under assault — a gift of the ruling class who makes a good appearance but has no real connection to those they govern, except to burden us with taxation and regulation? John 7:24 tells us, “Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment.” But the question is, how do you do that? One must have good judgement in order to make a good judgment. But how do we make a ‘right’ judgment?
Jesus taught, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Simple yet profound, Matthew 7:16-20 teaches that actions speak louder than words. What a politician actually does (the ‘fruit’ he produces) is what we should consider in determining his character (whether or not he is a ‘good tree’). Voters need to get beyond mere appearances and make decisions based on what candidates have actually done in the past.
That is why it is vital that voters should seek information about candidates. Take Obama, for example. He looked good and he sold the public. But is what we saw what we got? We saw a well-spoken candidate who had been in the Senate for two years. In terms of legislation his accomplishments were few. We saw his persona and heard his rhetoric. That, along with record funding, got him elected. But getting background information on Obama was difficult. School and health records, which have been routinely made available to the press by other candidates, were sealed by Obama. Even his birth certificate has been sealed, except for the short-form record of live birth, which does not carry the same legal weight. Obama has spent millions of dollars to fight many legitimate inquiries into his past. Why? Is it a natural defense against attacks by so-called ‘racists’ or political operatives out to destroy Obama? Common sense tells us the best way to fight against lying accusations is to expose them to the truth. So why is Obama hiding the truth from those of us he pretends to represent?
The answer is obvious to me. It’s the appearances Aesop warned us about. Enough voters were deceived two years ago to welcome radical ‘change’. It reminds me of the joke about the man with the deformed hand who prayed, “Please Lord, make my hand like the other one.” We got ‘change’ like he got two deformed hands. If there is any hope for our federal republic, any hope for the future of American exceptionalism, American citizens need to vote. We need to vote in droves — all of us. That means being informed and taking responsibility for self-governance. Why leave it up to non-thinkers who just go by appearances? “Things are seldom what they seem…” Wise up, America!