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In Washington, there’s an old cliché: A gaffe occurs when a politician is accidentally honest. That’s what happened when Newark (N.J.) Mayor Cory Booker spoke during his appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Seriously! Why don’t we flip out at a statement like this?
Nearly all of the media and most voters seem to simply accept what they’ve just read and move on.
Yo, listen up!
There is a big, fat, pink elephant in the middle of the room and you are walking around it. Don’t you see it? Doesn’t it seem weird?
On Saturday, I visited with several friends and colleagues at a mutual friend’s house-warming party. A number of people asked how my campaign was going. I replied something like this:
“It’s a lot of fun. My wife and I have had the opportunity to witness the incredible beauty of Northern California. In the past five months, the candidates have participated in many debates from Marin City to Eureka. And it has been great getting to know the voters and the other candidates – all twelve candidates have been working hard and each of us has something important to say.”
“What about talking to the other candidates — do you confront them about the unethical behavior and corruption in Washington?”
“Of course. That is what my main message is. I have continually challenged them to acknowledge the corrupting role money has played in Washington. But they don’t respond. Or they mention the word, but gloss right over it and go back to their message.
“They don’t respond!”
“Actually, all of us have been very nice to each other. But once we were in front of the microphones and the cameras, the other candidates would act as if I had never asked them about corruption. It was like I didn’t exist. They would each talk about whatever issue was most important to them, and occasionally snipe at each other, but they would not acknowledge the corruption that they are campaigning to be part of. It seems that the idea of simply telling the truth about our political system is foreign to them. It seems they’d rather rearrange furniture on the Titanic than steer us to a saner future.”
“It’s funny, but many of the other candidates’ staff members seem to be big fans of mine. And after every debate or forum, folks from the audience who were enthusiastic about my message always came up and let me know they loved that I was telling the truth.”
As an interventionist, I know that denial is almost always present in an addictive system. I know there is tremendous denial among the candidates, in our government and among the voters. But I have felt proud to stand up on my soapbox and say out loud what so many grown up, rational Americans actually think. And I’m not accidentally honest – I intentionally speak my truth.
Being able to speak the truth has made all of this work worthwhile.