In their daily lives, politicians tell truths, half truths, do not tell the whole truth or just outright lie.  Elections, media questioning, the cut and thrust of policy debate force them into situations where they confront these choices.  If they take the easy route and veer from the truth, they either get away with it or are caught out. If they get away with it, they learn that they can tell half truths and survive. So, they will do it again.  Perhaps, they will go even further and outright lie.

The rest of us in our daily lives are not pushed to constantly debate and live in the media spotlight.  We have few opportunities to learn what happens if we lie.  Perhaps, we assume that that route leads to discovery, ignominy and ruin.  This assumption is not tested frequently as we are rarely put in positions where we have to experiment.  Hence the assumption survives for longer is a kind of personal self-confirming equilibrium.  Our inner (Anthony) Weiner is suppressed by the fear of discovery.  But in the realm of politics Congressman Anthony Weiner  released his inner Weiner many years ago with impunity and started his slide down the slippery slope

This simple theory assumes symmetry – we are all alike but the environment in which we live is different. An even simpler theory assumes asymmetry – the types of people who go into politics are more prone to Weinerisms than the rest of us.

Advertisements