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Honesty? From a Politician?

The presidential campaign is in full attack mode. Why I wish just one politician would break from the pack and do something shocking: be honest about themselves.

The other day I was driving in my car listening to NPR. I happen to like NPR because they do longform news stories as opposed to just quick hit news that gets repeated every 15 minutes. (I also like listening to their reporters' voices; they have some people with good pipes. It's a weird thing of mine. Sue me.) As I was listening, I heard a story on a deal that President Obama's campaign has offered to the Romney campaign.

Release the past five years of your tax returns, and we won't ask for any more.

That was it. That was the deal. And the more I listened to the story (and it's commentary), the more I thought: this is stupid. On multiple levels.

I'll leave it for you to parse out just how asinine this "deal" is, but I want to move on to my gut reaction. I posted this on Facebook and it turned into a very long comment thread. After hearing this story, my first thought was simply:

I wish Romney would just come out and say, "You know what? I have exploited every loophole in the tax code in order to pay as little tax as possible, because it's good business and perfectly legal. If you don't like it, then let's light a fire under Congress' butt and get the tax code changed to something that makes sense for everybody."

I said it then, and I'll say it now: if Romney came out with that kind of honesty, I'd vote for the man just on the strength of that statement alone. Because instead of playing to perceptions, the man would be dealing in facts. And that's the kind of president I want.

Heck, I'd take that level of honesty from any politician, regardless of party affiliation.

Unfortunately, this will never happen. Politics has become marketing and nothing more. Spin. Damage control. Attack ads. Response to attack ads. What does your running mate say about you? Does charcoal gray make you look official or does it make you look stuffy? How many likes can your Facebook page get?

I laughed when I read the slew of articles suggesting that the selection of Paul Ryan made this a campaign about substance over style. Really? The fact that the main point of the articles was that picking Ryan "said" this was a substantive campaign merely illustrates my point.

Bring me the politician crazy enough to lay everything on the table and say, "Go ahead. Look around. Tell me what you like and what you don't like. Pick away at my past, my mistakes, my faults, my fears. Because when you do that, you'll get to the core of who I am as a person, and that will tell you far more about how I will govern than any stump speech ever will."

How refreshing would that be? Imagine a candidate on one of the talking head shows, sitting there with nothing to hide, answering tough questions instead of obfuscating and spinning?

Talking Head: I see that when you were in college you smoked weed. Is that true?

Honest Politician: Yes.

TH: Uh, did you like it?

HP: At the time.

TH: Do you still smoke weed?

HP: No.

TH: Uh...um... (pause) Okay. Next question. You made a lot of money. Did you pay taxes on it?

HP: Yes.

TH: Did you pay a lot of taxes on it?

HP: No, because the tax code sucks.

And so on. Perhaps I'm just weird, but I would find that scintillating to watch simply because it would actually matter. It would tell me something about the person running for office, something I could hang my hat on.

Instead, I get stories about deals over issues that don't tell me anything. Sure, Romney's tax records may reveal that he didn't pay taxes and got away with it, but other than stoking the fires of jealousy among folks who paid taxes and wish they didn't or didn't pay taxes but got caught, what's the point of that information? That he's filthy rich? Didn't I already know that? And isn't just about everyone who runs for office at that level of government?

We're a nation in need of leaders who can offer solutions, not just soundbites. Who can bring leadership and common sense to bear on the challenges that face us. We are in desperate need of someone who can look at both sides of the aisle, call them on their ideological manure and inspire them to do what is right for the majority of Americans. Someone who can speak with honesty and clarity about the issues we face and the necessary changes we would all have to make in order to make this nation truly united.

Give me one honest politician. Just one. That's all I ask.

Too bad Abe Lincoln is off hunting vampires. We could use him in the White House again.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cheryl Miller November 15, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Your statement sounds as if you believe that the TSPLOST vote you cast was the end of that story, but they are counting on the fact that you and everyone else will lose interest and assume it's a dead issue. Meanwhile, unless you know specifically who was responsible for the ideas behind the T-SPLOST, you really do not know if that was the last you will hear about it. The federal government should be the least of your concerns when you live in the reportedly most corrupt state (ranking #50 out of 50) in the U.S. http://www.foxbusiness.com/investing/2012/03/22/americas-most-corrupt-states/
Cheryl Miller November 15, 2012 at 07:10 PM
No one deserves to make a lot of money, but everyone deserves the opportunity to make a decent living and support their family, educate their children, keep a roof over their heads and food in the fridge. If you work on cars or someone else's investment accounts, it is just a way to earn a living and everyone should put ethics and integrity into what they do, not matter what that job might be, or else you have no reason to expect the same in return from your local politicians. Government is as much about "us" as it is about "them." Unless we give up the right to vote or simply stop exercising that right, we still hold the power of accountability over the heads of those who are supposed to represent us. If we continue to sit back and hope for the best, we can expect more o the same. If we stop looking for the problems and start finding solutions, we can get the corrupt out of office and make informed choices at each and every election. Sadly, with regard to the charter schools, the majority of voters decided it would be easier to just give up the right to vote and hope for the best. So, we can all look forward to more of the same while our children pay the price.
Cheryl Miller November 15, 2012 at 07:13 PM
We should be embarrassed to see how American Idol manages to get a high voter turnout and surprisingly acceptable results consistently, yet we cannot find a way to prevent four hour lines at the polls for a Presidential election we should have known was coming up and how many estimated voters there would be at each location.
Cheryl Miller November 15, 2012 at 07:14 PM
There are plenty of elderly in this country who no longer drive and therefore they do not have a driver's license. What exactly do you think should be the cutoff age when it becomes okay for the government to take your rights away from you, Racer X?
Racer X November 16, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Cheryl Miller, my own mother is 84 years old, has not driven in over 10 years and still carries identification. You use a lot of words to say very little.

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