Fact and Fiction

When politicians and government officials talk, it is important to listen to their words. Frequently there is an enormous difference between what silver-tongued speakers are saying, and what they really want you to hear. Language is often used to deftly obscure reality. Recently Americans were treated to a fine example of this truism.

This week the US Treasury Department announced that Alexander Hamilton will have to share his place on the $10 bill with a woman. Ostensibly public input is an important part of the selection process. Realistically, Treasury Department officials are giving Americans a chance to experience Participatory Democracy first hand.

The concept of a Participatory Democracy is quite simple: citizen involvement is encouraged (e.g. opinions, petitions, meetings, etc.), but government officials hold the ultimate decision-making authority. The Treasury Department’s search for a new face fits into the aforementioned mold quite neatly. However, it does not need to be this way.

Congress, if it had a backbone, would select an excellent woman for the $10 bill; the decision would not be left to unelected bureaucrats. Congressional action of this nature would reaffirm the ability of Congress to act wisely; a cynical public would surely appreciate their rare good luck. Unfortunately many members of Congress are uninterested in taking responsibility for much of anything.

The next time you hear an elected official speak, or read a news report about their remarks, ask yourself one question: are they trying to mislead their constituents with platitudes, vague solutions, and obviously qualified comments? If the answer is yes (and it usually is), you have discovered their game. Yet even more importantly, you can now begin separating the facts politicians cannot deny, from the fictions they want you to believe.

Editor’s note: The women on 20 movement developed an interesting list of possible candidates, and thereafter took a poll of their readers. For my money Anthony, Tubman, Perkins, Truth, and Barton are decent choices.

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