American Culture

When politicians speak, demand evidence of claims

blah blah blah

Demand deeds, not words. Claims of values demand clear demonstrations.

In the language of modern American politics (and surely elsewhere), one word has become debased currency.


When Bill Clinton said, “I share your pain,” he intimated he shared our values, that he shared our common economic experience. But Clinton had money, and made much more of it after leaving office. Most of us had much less, and never got much more.

When George W. Bush addressed Congress in 2007, saying, “Our citizens don’t much care which side of the aisle we sit on — as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done,” he intimated he shared our value of negotiated compromise. He didn’t do much of that, especially saddled with the albatross of Dick Cheney.

When Barack Obama spoke at the United Nations in 2010,  he said, “The idea is a simple one — that freedom, justice and peace for the world must begin with freedom, justice, and peace in the lives of individual human beings. And for the United States, this is a matter of moral and pragmatic necessity.” He told us an individual being has worth, has a value equivalent to that of any other human being. Yet he ordered the death of an American citizen without benefit of a trial and has yet to explain concretely the legal reasoning for it.

When Donald Trump speaks, or worse, tweets anything, what value should we derive from his lexical forays? His lies, prevarications, in general the shit he just makes up,  leave 327 million Americans with this decision: What value should I take from the words of this president? Some, known as his “base,” will find ideological comfort. Others will find nauseation and a frustrated sadness as values once known and honored (like truth) are now replaced by linguistic weaponry.

And the moral coda? Over the next two years, as a plethora of politicians courts your vote, they will soothe your economically and ideologically troubled brow with words suggesting they have your values in mind.

Demand deeds, not words. Claims of values demand clear demonstrations.