Speak Truth to Power; Don't Cover for the Powerful

I meant to make this my "election season resolution," but now that it's already Election Day, I'd better make it a resolution for at least the next four years: I don't want to say anything that covers for the powerful. I want to speak truth to power in whatever little ways I can.

"Speak truth to power" is a phrase often used by activists on the left, but it's a meaningful act no matter what your politics are. All it means is that we should confront the lies of those in power by speaking out and speaking the truth. All of us should feel compelled to speak truth to power, and we should feel good about doing so.

The problem is, we're surrounded by people who do the exact opposite. So many people—family and friends, writers and pundits in the media—actually spend their time covering for the powerful. They create and spread talking points that justify wrong actions. They promote apologia for how those in power have to do what they have to do, no matter how bad it is.

Most if not all of these people probably don't intend to cover for the powerful.

We all know how this works, too: Republicans defend Republicans at any cost. Democrats defend Democrats no matter what. It often takes an indisputably horrible, indisputably true scandal for people to stop covering for someone on their "team," and sometimes even that doesn't work. If you feel like a leader is being persecuted by partisans on the other side, that can lead you to defend them all the more virulently, regardless of what seeds of truth might lie in what the other side is saying.

To take one example, I've definitely felt more sympathetic to President Obama over the past eight years because of unfounded attacks he's been subject to. However, many of his actions as President merit serious critique. Now I have to ask myself—how worthwhile was it for me to spend time defending him on such counts, instead of focusing my efforts on the real wrongs he perpetuated and perpetrated? Would it made any difference whatsoever if I hadn't rushed to his defense in political discussions? Could it have been much more impactful to keep zeroing in on his genuine problems?

During this election, I saw many friends rush to defend Hillary Clinton because of how she's often attacked, but at this point I wonder—does Hillary really need anyone to defend her?

I know I'm certainly not innocent of covering for the powerful. I think it's almost impossible to write about this subject without being hypocritical. That's why I'm making a resolution, not claiming I'm guiltless. I'll strive my best to I hope you'll join me:

I don't want to say anything that covers for the powerful. I want to speak truth to power in whatever little ways I can.