The Prince Returns
That boatload of malarkey was quickly exposed for what it is. Our troops get annual pay raises, averaging between 2% and 3% since 2008. This year's raise, not even close to Trump's ridiculous claim of 10%, came in at 2.6%. South Dakota's congressional reps--famous for repeatedly touting themselves as exponents of "South Dakota family values"--haven't made a statement or given any indication that they're even aware of this and Trump's many other lies during the course of his presidency nor the campaign that preceded it. This morning's USA Today has a piece that tallies Trump's lies, coming up with an average of 10 a day that he's told since taking office. At what point can we expect our Senators Thune and Rounds, Congresswoman Noem (and Congressman-elect Dusty Johnson, for that matter) to come out and say enough is enough? Habitual lying isn't a South Dakota value, so why do they silently tolerate it in Washington? It's all about political reprisals, of course, so our federal reps just keep their mouths shut, to heck with their not-so-bold commitments to values.
I fear that we have entered a dark era of the darkest Machiavellian principle, the one where lying leaders can function with impugnity because their utterances are possessed of "effectual truth." In a nutshell, the 16th century political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli posited in his treatise "The Prince" that a lie is effectively the truth (verite effetuale) because it is sometimes necessary to do evil in pursuit of what the leader perceives to be the good. Dangerous stuff, this "ends justifies the means" system of governing, but a danger of necessity, says Macchiavelli, because "a man who wants to make a profession of good in all regards must come to ruin among so many who are not good."
That cynical view of human nature makes it clear that President Trump fits Machiavelli's profile of successful leadership. But our elected reps embrace a higher standard when avowing their commitment to South Dakota values. I just wish that they and the rest of Trump's congressional enablers didn't make it look like they're among the "many" who are not so good.