Truth Serum

A further example is Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comment. Many people believe that simple statement cost him the 2012 presidential election. What he said was a fact-based admission that his chances were weak of winning over a demographic that believed in the current president and administration because they would not want to put in jeopardy the much-needed entitlements they were already receiving. Their opinions and votes were unlikely to be reversed. “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president, no matter what.”

Much of Romney’s statement relied on assumptions about one demographic: the 47 percent of Americans who he said “pay no income tax.” According to the the Tax Policy Center, which provides data from 2011, 46.4 percent of American households paid no federal income tax, Romney was right. But the same data show that nearly two-thirds of households that paid no income tax did pay payroll taxes, as well as some combination of state, local, sales, gas, and property taxes.

So, in other respects, Romney was wrong, but what he was trying to say was never clearly articulated. To me, it appeared he was saying, “Look, the people using all of the government’s current entitlements are not going to take a chance on losing those by voting for me or anyone else.” But by the time he tried to explain, the press had already shown up with the torches, tar, and feathers.

No matter what he did from the day that video was revealed, he could not sway public opinion in his favor. Some segments of the population never “let him get the truth out,” like little Carolyn in the grocery store.

Say What You Mean

In the movie A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s character was pressed for the truth by the opposing lawyer, and in response bellowed, “You can’t handle the truth!” Perhaps that’s the assumption often by the press and people of influence. But if we listen to the context of that famous line, we can hear a more revealing explanation: “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said ’thank you’ and went on your way. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”

Well, folks, the one entitlement we have is learning the truth, but we must pursue and find it. Perhaps the next time we are talking to our mate, our children, our peers, our staff, our parents—we should consider how we approach a situation. Do we want the truth or our version of that truth?

Can we handle that?

Ron Ciancutti is the Director of Procurement for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com.

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Related posts:

  1. Shoot The Messenger
  2. Temporary Sanity
  3. Information Junkies
  4. Right To Ask Why
  5. Successful Communication

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