What If All Politicians Were Always Under Oath?
I had a crazy thought the other day: What if all politicians were always under oath?
I’m specifically talking about the United States, as other countries might have something like this in place.
Here’s the idea: Starting with the moment a politician at the national level is sworn into office, they are considered to be under oath until they leave office. Everything they say would henceforth be under the scrutiny of an official, bipartisan fact-checking committee.
The intent would be to hold politicians accountable for everything they say as a public figure. This isn’t necessarily a commentary on the honesty of politicians; I doubt they’re any more or less honest than the rest of us on average. Rather, it seems to me that it’s a core part of a politician’s job to be honest to their constituents, and there shouldn’t only be consequences for lying during the limited times they’re under oath.
I think this would lead to several things happening:
- Politicians may simply speak less. If they’re asked a question to which the answer isn’t in favor of the politician, they may just decline to answer. While this doesn’t aid the overall discussion, at least it would lead to fewer authority figures misrepresenting facts.
- Politicians would become even better at massaging their words. Instead of saying, “Global warning doesn’t exist,” they might say, “I believe that global warming doesn’t exist.” Even though the latter statement represents a lie, if it actually is what the politician believes, it may not violate their oath.
- We might see a decrease in situational bias. One of my least favorite things about politicians is when they adamantly say something to support their party, but when that exact same situation applies to the opposition, they say the exact opposite. If they’re under oath, they would be obligated to be more consistent.
- It would lead to some grey areas between personal and political life. Like, if a mic caught a politician telling his/her spouse that they did in fact take out the trash the night before, but it turns out not to be true, it seems like that should not be persecuted at the level of political statements. But where exactly do you draw the line?
I know that conversations about politics can get heated, so while it’s fine to discuss this idea in the comments, please do not highlight specific politicians. I’d like to keep this discussion civil and bipartisan.
Given that, what do you think about this idea?