Day 119: I’m Not a Cheater (The Problem With Information)

But I have cheated.  When I was younger I cheated every time I played Monopoly.  I think I cheated once when I played Clue, too.  And once, when I was legally married, I had an affair.

The past ten days have led to some pretty serious confessions, and I wonder who would believe me if I said this was really just the tip of the iceberg, and I wonder who could possibly take me seriously after knowing the whole story.

As I write all of this, I am acutely aware of what I am doing.  Even though this is an anonymous blog, it would not be hard to find me, and given the information I have provided, I certainly could not deny that I am the author.

We live in a time and a place where hiding our true selves, especially any flaws or adverse experiences, has become a prerequisite for success, and I’m blowing it.  Here’s why.

There was much talk about China’s Social Credit System, where the government provides each citizen a rating based on credit, job experience, education, and their social media accounts.  I am told by people who know about these things that one could have a drop in credit simply for mentioning Tiananmen Square, or for being friends with someone who mentions it.  That is, hopefully for obvious reasons, completely terrifying, but when I step back and think about our own system, I’m not sure things are that different (in some ways).

It’s true that, to my knowledge, no government agency is gathering information from our banks and our social media accounts to give us a rating (there are some new apps that allow people to rate other people, but I think that’s entirely different, and could actually be useful in some instances), unless we are on a terrorist watch list of some kind, which I very well may land on after this article.  But think about how this works.

The only judges who we appoint to the Supreme Court are judges who have no known opinions or experiences.  If they have clearly articulated opinions about abortion or gay marriage, there is no way they will be confirmed.  If they have any kind of colorful past, they will not be confirmed.  Remember, Justice Thomas was almost not confirmed because there was an accusation of sexual harassment that was never proven.  The same is true for people seeking political office.  If a candidate says anything controversial, the media is all over it, and we recoil in horror at the idea that someone running for office could have once been opinionated or wrong about something.   If they have ever said anything remotely controversial, it gets twisted around and blown out of proportion until half of the population concludes they are a racist, sexist, or bigot.  And I will say, for the record, I think one political party is worse about this than the other, but they both participate when it suits them.

The result?  We end up with people who either have no personality or opinion or real world experiences, or people who go to great lengths to hide their opinions or experiences.  Either way, we can’t know the person we are electing, or the person deciding, with eight others, what our Constitution really means.  We are not necessarily getting the most qualified or best person, we are simply getting the most boring, or the least “offensive,” or best at hiding.

Let’s break this down.  There are two kinds of people who never put thoughts or opinions in writing.  The first, we will call “Bland Sam.”  Sam lives a sterilized life, because he is just a genuinely boring person.  He doesn’t really opinions about things, he doesn’t get upset about things, he just lives a quiet, nerdy life.  Sam might be an acceptable candidate, but if he doesn’t have his own thoughts and opinions and feelings, he is probably not a great candidate, because someone or something else will always be the primary mover.  The second we call “Fake Jake.”  Jake may live what appears to be a sterilized life, and may even live a somewhat sterilized life, but it is all with the end goal of climbing some social ladder.  This person will do whatever it takes to achieve “greatness,” and will lie, cheat, steal, and hide who he really is, if he thinks it will give him some advantage.  To do this successfully it has to be a pretty big part of life.  What kind of normal person wants to live that way?  What kind of egotistical maniac decides before they reach full adult maturity that they are so special and so important that they must hide who they really are so that one day, they can run the country and rule the world?*  Think about that.  Is that the kind of person we want in charge?  I don’t.  Jake is never a good candidate, unless the competition is for Sociopath of the Year.

I want to know what a candidate really thinks, in an unguarded moment, about immigration, or what they had for breakfast, or which team they want to win (even if it’s not the Mets).  I want someone in charge who has lived a real life, who has real feelings, real flaws, real hopes and dreams.  Even if I don’t agree with them.  I have no interest in saying a candidate I don’t like is some kind of monster because he put his foot in his mouth once, or wrote a paper in college about overthrowing the government or because he once smoked marijuana in the school bathroom.

I know other people don’t feel the same way, and, hey, this is America, so that’s allowed.  For now.

A little melodramatic?  I learned from watching my husband.

*I will grant, for the sake of argument, that maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there who goes to these great lengths because he or she truly believes it necessary to save the world.  I have never met or seen such a person, but I will allow that it is possible, at least in theory.

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