Field of Science

Is it ethical for candidates to lie to the electorate? Is it ethical to lie to pollsters?

Hooweee!  Does TPP ever feel popular!  As the midterm elections approach and the campaign for governor of Lincolnland remains neck and neck, the telephone calls are unrelenting. You keep expecting one of them to say, "I'll go away if you just promise to vote for me."  And that's just the candidates, then there are the pollsters, those hired by the two parties, those hired by the different candidates, and those run by students who are learning about politics (3 just yesterday!). Caller: "We are conducting an independent poll.  Do you know who you are going to vote for?"  TPP: "Yes."  Caller: "Will you share with us your decision?"  TPP: "Yes, but understand that I may lie." Caller: "What?"  TPP: "My answer may or may not be truthful.  Do you want to proceed?"  Caller: "If you don't tell the truth then our poll won't be accurate."  TPP: "Yes, isn't that a shame? Please understand that I have no vested interest in the accuracy of your poll." Caller: "Why would you lie?"  TPP: "The candidates lie to us, so let's call it tit for tat."  Caller: "So you answer will be a lie?"  TPP: "It's not that easy, it only may be a lie."  Caller: "Good bye, sir." TPP: "Have a nice day."  Based on the response, it would appear that not many people tell pollsters that they may lie to them. It only seems fair based upon how many times the candidates have lied to us. To curtail the amount of dishonesty during election campaigning, perhaps this nation needs something like a PolitiFact people's court. To borrow from ice hockey, candidates and their campaigners have to spend time in the penalty box for lying about the other candidate, perhaps a number of days of complete silence. So you tell a half-truth or a misleading statement, maybe you get a 1 day timeout. Your statement is judged to be false, and you get a 3-day time out. And if you makeup a complete whopper, a real pants-on-fire falsehood, you get a week in the penalty box of silence. This gives the cleaner campaign a "power play".  Might that not raise the tone of political discourse?  Of course, having the candidates stand on a piece of paper would raise the political discourse significantly. So, please, no more calls from either of you. A vote will be cast, and maybe for one of you.

1 comment:

mr_subjunctive said...

I often just lie; I don't bother to warn them first.[1] I figure they're taking up my time (and as an Iowan, I'm in the position of being in a purple state and having a Presidential election season that begins 18 months before the actual vote, so we get a lot of polls -- they're trying to grab a substantial amount of my time) and asking me for information they consider valuable, but they're not offering me anything in exchange for the information. If pollsters want me to give them useful information, they can buy it, like everybody else does.

Whether the politicians lie or not is kind of beside the point, as far as I'm concerned: they're not necessarily the ones who are paying for the polls, and they're as likely to be helped by my lying as they are to be hurt.


[1] Though in point of fact, I do tell the truth when actual people call. I mostly lie when it's recorded, press-1-for-Republican sorts of calls. So even if I wanted to warn them in advance that I may lie, I wouldn't have the opportunity to do so.