Truth Doesn’t Matter

Posted: October 8, 2010 by Matt Horan in Uncategorized
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By Matt Horan

This week on the Sojourners website, Jim Wallis wrote about a movement of over 100 former politicians from both sides of the aisle who have come forward with a statement urging reform in the way our current politicians go about their work.  I’m not always very eager to jump on the Jim Wallis bandwagon, as I feel like he’s too easily dragged into the mud himself, especially in his recent feud with Glenn Beck.

However, this is welcome news.  Sojourners is urging the adoption of a “Civility Covenant,” and it is long overdue.

We act as if facts matter.  We act as if gaining supporters to my position is based on convincing people of what is true and what is false.  Once they see that the facts support my side, they’ll be won over.  But facts don’t matter.  Truth doesn’t matter.  What motivates us is not our facts, but our commitments.

Let’s make up an issue for fun.  Lets say that the town of Cityville has a vote coming up on election day to create a 1 cent sales tax that would pay for a subway system.  More people are commuting into downtown from the suburbs, traffic is getting bad, and so they wish there was a quicker and easier way.

However, there are four large automobile dealers in Cityville, along with 61 auto repair shops, 9 car stereo stores, 11 towing companies, and 31 auto parts retailers.  A commuter rail system would mean less cars on the roads and less business for all of these companies who collectively employ hundreds and hundreds of people.  What’s better for them is road-widening projects and parking garages that create capacity for more cars on the roadways.

So the issue is not about “which is better?”  A subway would be good for some people and bad for others.  Both sides hire lobbyists who design campaigns to sway public opinion.  Is some fact about the benefit of subways going to change the mind of someone who owns a towing company or used car lot?  It’s not about facts, but about competing interests.

It makes me laugh when someone accuses their opponent of being swayed by “special interests,” because that’s all we’ve got!  We’ve all got special interests!  Government decisions affect people’s interests in different ways.  They’re not the villains that they appear to be, they’re just voting in the way that’s best for them.  I just wish we all had the courage to stand up and say so, rather than trying to turn our opponents into mortal enemies.

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