by Juhem Navarro-Rivera
Hypocrisy is not a bad characteristic to have in politics. Think about it. You’re an elected official, you have to kiss babies and shake hands all the time. Not only this, but you also have to pretend to listen even when people come with the stupidest ideas or the craziest conspiracy theories (unless you’re Barney Frank and you’re awesome!). Believe me, being a politician is a tough job.
The most important consequence of hypocrisy, though, is that you can get things done. Maybe you cannot stand that idiot from your own party but he chairs an important committee. You swallow your pride and work with him anyway. You despise the member from the other party who is representing the same state you’re in, but some important policy will affect both, so you suck it up and work together. Or maybe you want some bill passed but you don’t particularly care about another bill. Another member cares deeply about that bill but doesn’t care about yours. So you cut a deal, trade votes. This type of hypocrisy is good because it allows the government to run rather smoothly. If hypocrisy allows you to get things for your constituents, so be it. Type-1 Hypocrisy greases the wheels of politics.
There’s also another type of hypocrisy. This hypocrisy is damaging because it has nothing to do with personal relationships and getting things done, but rather with finding justifications for ideological blinders. Type-2 Hypocrisy is about finding lame excuses for not doing things while telling people that you want to get things done. Type-2 Hypocrisy clogs the wheels of politics.
Type-2 Hypocrisy is rampant these days in Washington. During the recent budget debacle that almost paralyzed the Federal Government Type-2 Hypocrisy was constantly on display. Republicans, while constantly rambling about the deficit, tackle the issue by cutting funds for NPR and Planned Parenthood. Democrats, while claiming that they care about a public safety net also claim to want to cut spending.
The beauty of Type-2 Hypocrisy is to claim to care about an issue or problem while actively doing things that don’t help to solve it. Blame can be shifted around with symbolic politics or pure rhetoric without action.
The fact is that most Americans, while claiming they want a balanced budget also want services. We need to tell Americans that to keep most services we need higher taxes. But we also need to address our health care spending, which will get higher as Americans get older. There’s a solution for this. Regularize the status of millions of young, able-bodied Americans who can contribute now. Immigration reform should be part of the solution of our budget woes. In a world where Type-1 hypocrisy was the rule, we would be tackling it. Instead, we’re stuck in neutral because Type-2 Hypocrisy is rampant today.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.