To begin with, the term “political honesty” is an oxymoron, a complete contradiction in terms, and a practical impossibility in governing a nation as diverse as the United States.
Yet large numbers of people clamor for politicians and candidates who speak their mind simply and directly and stick to their guns, so to speak.
The problem with such “honesty” is that, because we live in a diverse and highly complex society, both socially and technologically, anything that most people think is simple and “honest” is so oversimplified that it’s inaccurate and anything but honest. And any politician or public figure who tries to give a more detailed and accurate depiction of matters can’t fit that within the sound-bite limitations of the media and the attention span of the majority of voters, all too many of whom distrust what they can’t understand and who seldom make the effort to understand anything not required in their everyday life.
Add to that the fact that the growth of lower-wage jobs that are physically tiring and often emotionally stultifying has built a culture of anger and resentment among those individuals who hold them and who more and more want simple and satisfying answers – except simple and satisfying is usually simplistic, misrepresentative, and inaccurate.
Then there is the fact that those who are fortunate enough to have higher-wage jobs find themselves being asked to do more and more as business after business strives to be leaner and meaner than the competition, which results in all too many of those higher-paid individuals also being time-stressed and forced to focus on their jobs and family [and sometimes not even family] in order to hang on to their jobs.
To this mix, add a generation of career politicians, for whom the first priority is keeping their office. Combine with a gerrymandered political system, and the result is that almost any politician who says anything his or her constituents don’t like is likely to get voted out in the next primary election, “primaried,” as it were. And since only a tiny percentage of Americans actually understand the issues in depth – or even want to – most voters really don’t like anyone, either an incumbent officeholder or a challenger, who tries to explain why “simple” won’t work.
A border wall won’t work. Neither will lowering income taxes further. Neither will turning federal lands back to the states [besides the fact that doing so is unconstitutional]. Neither will trying to deport eleven million “illegal” aliens. Neither will banning the teaching of evolution or absolutely banning abortions. Nor will free universal college educations [at least not without significant tax increases]. All of which means that almost all of the “simple and satisfying” solutions proposed by the “honest politicians” can’t be implemented and won’t work.
As the Founding Fathers designed, we have a government that requires cooperation and muddling through… and that’s another honest fact that few politicians want to admit… if they want to keep their jobs, anyway.