GRE Issue Essay 239

“It is impossible for an effective political leader to tell the truth all the time. Complete honesty is not a useful virtue for a politician.”

An unfortunate reality in today’s context is that the ideologies of most politicians are largely influenced by the impact that they are likely to have on their vote banks. Therefore, one often sees that the politicians make statements that are synonymous with what the public would like to hear. At the same time, it has been seen time and again that exposing the truth may often have worse consequences than hiding the same truth. On the other hand, one cannot deny the existence of corruption that is rampant amongst politicians because of their inclination to camouflage the truth. Although politicians do have a tendency to hide the truth, sometimes this action tends to be favorable for the general population of the country. Hence, it is true that complete honesty is not a useful virtue for a politician and that sometimes hiding the truth may be favorable for the country as a whole.

Most people feel that the authenticity of the statements being made by the politicians are questionable because they may have been made keeping in mind the effect they would have in garnering more support for the party irrespective of whether the party is in power or it is the opposition party. However, there are times when it is extremely difficult for the political leadership of a country to stick to the truth.

A compelling example of such a scenario is the statement made by the political leadership of a country related to its security issues. The security status of a country might be higher than what meets the eye. The political leadership has to maintain a discrete silence over all such issues and if required they have to resort to being untruthful when it comes to declaring their assets. A country may be capable of developing nuclear weapons, but their leadership would always deny it publicly or else the world would impose sanctions on the country. The politicians may feel the requirement of developing nuclear weapons because other countries, especially the ones that they are likely to go to war with, are nuclear capable. The nuclear weapons would have been developed only with the intention of self defense, but still it would be in the interests of the nation if the political leadership of the country chooses to avoid complete honesty when it comes to making statements about their nuclear capabilities.

Take the example of a country like India that boasts of diversity in religion, language and caste. The politicians of such a country may have to face innumerable problems when it comes to making statements whenever there is widespread discontent amongst the general public because of these diversities. The political leadership will have to give due consideration to what is best for the country before making a public statement either in favor of or against one of the agitating groups. In most cases, the political leadership makes a statement that will least affect the sentiments of either group. This statement may have been arrived at by contorting the truth, but the end result would be favorable for the country and so complete honesty would not be a useful virtue for a politician in such a scenario.

It is true that corruption has time and again been related to politics as politicians have resorted to avoiding the truth for their personal gains also. This is an aspect of active politics that comes with power. There are politicians who may like to utilize their position of power for their personal benefits. Barring such cases, it can be said that being completely truthful may not be a useful virtue for a politician especially when the peace, prosperity and progress of a nation are at stake.