The Political Art of Lying

In 1710, Jonathan Swift wrote his famous essay The Political Art of Lying. Today, most Americans would agree that political lying continues to be an art form practiced by many of our politicians. Here is some of Swift’s wisdom:
We are told the devil is the father of lies, and was a liar from the beginning; so that, beyond contradiction, the invention is old. There is one essential point wherein a political liar differs from others of the faculty, that he ought to have but a short memory, which is necessary, according to the various occasions he meets with every hour, of differing from himself, and swearing to both sides of a contradiction, as he finds the persons disposed with whom he hath to deal. — Jonathan Swift

How can the public know what the truth or a lie is

Today, there are various organizations that offer some form of political ‘fact-checking.’ These sites are then cited by other news sources and gain the reputation of fact. However, a study released earlier this year by the American Press Institute found that only six percent of the public has a “great deal of confidence” in the press while 41 percent report that they had “hardly any confidence.”

Most Americans believe that politicians lie

So if the public does not trust the media to give the “real story” how can we determine when a candidate or public official is lying. Most Americans have long since made the assumption that the majority of politicians are dishonest. A Pew Research poll reported that only 29% of Americans feel that “honest” describes elected officials. By contrast, 69% reported feeling that the average American is honest.
A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. — Mark Twain

No politician will admit to a lie

No politician will admit to lying. They will explain how the media misinterpreted their comments, or how their position is being “taken out of context,” or that they simply “made a mistake.” Most candidates and their supporters tend to view their misstatement as innocuous when compared to those of the opponent. For many, some distortion is all right, as long as it’s their candidate that is doing the distorting.
The art of political lying has been around since at least the time of Jonathan Swift in the 18th century and will likely still be around when we reach the 22nd century and beyond.

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