The Lessons of Election 2004 Are Not Good For Young People

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In the midst of what has become political chaos caused by slants, slanders and spins, the real losers of Election 2004 may not be the candidates who were not elected, but America’s youth. It’s ironic that every time a candidate talks about what’s good or bad for kids, they seem to leave out a little item called Truth. It’s not so much what they say or where they stand on any particular issue involving children, but their actions that may be victimizing a whole generation of young people.

In the midst of what has become political chaos caused by slants, slanders and spins, the real losers of Election 2004 may not be the candidates who were not elected, but America’s youth. It’s ironic that every time a candidate talks about what’s good or bad for kids, they seem to leave out a little item called Truth. It’s not so much what they say or where they stand on any particular issue involving children, but their actions that may be victimizing a whole generation of young people.

Most Americans are intelligent enough to see through all the ideologically-motivated lies, slants, slanders and spins used on all sides during the campaigns of 2004. It seems that all the candidates running for office have come to the conclusion that saying or doing anything can be justified because the opposition will ruin the lives of most Americans if elected. So anything goes for now and we’ll do good later? Is that the kind of situation ethics lesson we want our youth to learn from?

The question is as old as humanity itself. Can we justify doing wrong to do right? Has American society degenerated to the point that we need a bunch of ideological Robin Hoods to save us from ourselves? If young people learn anything from this election it will be the following:

1. Truth is just one big gray area with no absolutes.

2. Truth can and should be manipulated for gain if the end result promises to forward the cause in question.

Is it any wonder a recent survey showed that ninety-five percent of all resumes submitted to major corporations contain inflated, over-stated or completely bogus information? When asked about this, most college graduates who took part in the survey admitted that they over-stated their academic credentials and previous employment information. Why? Because they felt it would be impossible to get hired without doing so.

We live in a society that has replaced honesty with situation morality. We’re teaching young people that it’s alright and even necessary to step over the line of truth, as long as it’s for a good cause. And what is that good cause? When it comes to politics, the idea is to get talented people elected so that they can make a difference when in office. That strategy was used by those helping Richard Nixon in 1968 and Bill Clinton in 1992. While it can easily be argued that both men made major contributions to America, they also brought major disgrace to the Office of the Presidency. In the end, both blamed political enemies for their downfall.

The lessons of the Nixon and Clinton Presidency should not be handily overlooked. Regardless of age, charisma, political connectivity or talent, people who will do or say anything to be elected are a bad risk and a terrible example for young people to follow. Their lack of character will always stand in the way of any great achievements.

If we ignore character in favor of ideological gain, we are only fooling ourselves and setting a horrible example for America’s youth. The way candidates run for office is even more important then where they stand on a particular issue. It sends a strong message to millions of young people watching today and millions more who will look back to the past from the future. Morality needs to start at the top and work its way down.

Those serving in elected office, as well as those with influence in the education, business and religious communities, must begin to take a stand for the truth. Something is either true or it isn’t. Truth should always be the ultimate governor of all our actions. It must cross all party lines and replace any perceived need for ideological activism. Where morality can often be debated and people will take whatever stand they feel is right on any moral issue, telling a lie or being honest should never be up for debate. Not being truthful is immoral without question, regardless of the motivation.

If truth is the standard by which we judge everything, our future is secure. No enemy will be able to hide behind any lie, feigning innocence. No corporation will fall victim to financial disaster brought on by dishonest CEOs, concerned only with their own financial portfolio. No politician will be about to mislead America, because we’ll already know where they stand on any issue before the election.

Bill Knell for ‘Making Life Work,’ a weekly column featuring business, lifestyle, family and personal advice available at no cost online at http://life.billknell.com

A native New Yorker now living in Arizona, Bill Knell is a forty-something guy with a wealth of knowledge and experience. He's written hundreds of articles on a wide variety of subjects. A popular Speaker, Bill Knell presents seminars on a number of topics that entertain, train and teach. A popular radio and television show Guest, you've heard Bill on thousands of top-rated shows in all formats and seen him on local, national and international television programs.

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