Tekst: Nils Oskar Tronrud, journalist
While Boris Johnson is suspending his own parliament, and Donald Trump is being investigated for attempting to undermine his political opponent, I can’t help but wonder how these politicians ended up in positions of power. It seems to me that they lied their way into office.
What enables them to succeed is the combination of lies and populism. The term is derived from the latin word populus which means «the people». Populism should then, in theory, be a healthy asset and a valiant defender of the people’s interests. Appealing to people’s emotions and offering solutions to their problems are powerful political tools, but sadly, some populists often abuse this at the cost of truthfulness.
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Trump has repeated claims that most of the USA’s economic and social issues are caused by illegal immigration. A claim that resonated with many Americans, despite being proven false. Within his first hundred days in office, Trump had told over 490 false or misleading claims, according to The Washington Post. By August 5th, 2019, that number had risen to over 12 000. Even though these claims are proven false by the media, the stain has already set.
The issue is that the lack of truthfulness in politics is corrupting the political climate. It is happening all across the world, turning people against each other. This leads to a polarization of the political climate and is causing issues in both the legislative and executive branches of governments.
Globalization has led to major job losses. These people look toward their government for protection but when the government is in a constant stalemate their frustration is intensified, creating a hostile environment.
What can be done to solve this issue? Having a set of rules similar to the «Code of Ethics of the Norwegian Press» (PFU) that can be used to convict politicians caught lying for political gain can be a way to force politicians to rely on extensive research before commenting on an issue. This would be a drastic measure, but it could lead to society electing strong, emphatical, yet truthful political figures, rather than those who lie their way into office.