How Can We Require Governmental Honesty to the People?

By Tom Ragazzi

The history of the United States is one of mixed virtue. We have a republican form of government in which congressmen are directly elected by the people and the president is indirectly elected by the people. We also have a higher standard of living than many nations. But this does not make our history a cleanly pristine one considering the institution of slavery, a lack of civil rights for minorities, and the denial of womenís suffrage, that were once a part of this nationís existence.

In defense, America has worked to right the aforesaid wrongs in order build a better nation. This is the positive direction that we have historically gone in, but more can be done. Governmental dishonesty is a problem that has notably occurred in the last few decades. Watergate, the Iran-Contra Affair, "No new taxes" empty promises, Clintonís Lewinski Affair, and some of the faulty evidence used to justify the 2003 Iraq War, should set off an alarm in the American people convincing them that something needs to be done in order to curb governmental dishonesty. But how can we require officials to be honest with the people when there is a right to free speech provided by the first amendment? We can establish a constitutional amendment requiring that all elected and appointed governmental officials, and those running for an elected office, are intellectually honest to the best of their ability in their arguments when addressing the people of the United States. We can require that once the individual takes office, he or she must take an oath of honesty to the people. The rationale for this is that those who are in the public trust should be held to a higher standard. This does not mean that intentionally lying to the public in itself should be a crime punishable by jail term, but that it should be considered an impeachable offense subject to the established constitutional procedures thereof. And, of course, individuals running for office could not be impeached because they would need to be in possession of a public office. No, this amendment would not be a panacea for all government ills, but it would put pressure on existing and future elected and appointed authorities to be straightforward and not intentionally deceive the public.

There are so many advantages of living in the free republic of America, and the history of America has gone in the direction of freedom. We can move more in this direction of freedom the more honest our government is, as governmental honesty leads to the people making more informed decisions based on accurate information. The American people deserve a candid government, and given the enormous impact of certain governmental decisions, specifically war and all its sacrifices, it is only right that there be pressure on the government to be honest to its people.