No American should assume their government will honor or respect any fundamental American value or principle unless it is specifically included in the Constitution. That’s just the way it is.
And it’s hard to imagine a more fundamental American value than honesty. For the most:
- Every American parent teaches their child to be honest.
- Every religion promotes honesty—and 4 out of 5 Americans say they’re religious (83%).
- The entire judicial branch of government always requires honesty.
And yet the words honest or honesty do not appear in the U.S. Constitution or its amendments.
Now there’s always been a moral reason for honesty. And in a democracy, there’s an even more highly practical reason for honesty and that’s because honesty simply works better than deception.
In a democracy:
- You simply can’t have well-informed decision-making on top of deception, and
- Neither the government nor the media can count on the support and trust of the people on top of deception.
Some will say that’s its unconstitutional, unfeasible or even un-American to require honesty. But that’s akin to saying every American has the constitutional right to lie to anyone about anything they want—and that’s simply not true.
The constitutional right to freedom of speech is not absolute. If your speech results in injury to another, you may be liable for that injury. In fact there are hundreds of statutes in the United States outlawing fraud and deception as well as considerable liabilities for slander and libel—and they are constitutional.
And it may surprise some Americans to know that under federal law, 18 USC 1001, it’s a federal felony for almost anyone to ever be dishonest in their dealings with the federal government.
So since the people are required to be honest with their government—wouldn’t it make sense, and wouldn’t things work better—if the American people also had the constitutional right to honesty on all matters related to public policy?
Where do you think it would make a difference if honesty was required—and deception disallowed—on all matters of American public policy?
Blair C. Henry JD, Executive Director
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