There exists a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that ideologically committed voters almost encourage dishonesty. A study by Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely found that “participants who were planning to vote Democratic indicated that Romney should be held to a fairly high ethical standard [while] Republican participants held a similar standard for Obama.”
In this miasma of misinformation, Americans throw open their arms, embracing their own party’s political deceptions as the best route towards toward policies they think will benefit them. Take a look at the Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of politically engaged friends. You’ll likely come across dozens of links highlighting an egregious political lie, but good luck finding a friend who highlights whoppers from both parties. And even if political lying is unevenly distributed by ideology, as is often claimed, we could expect examples of outrageous dishonesty from their own side, just far fewer.
Because many pundits saw a second Obama term as a particularly high-stakes moment in American political history, the parallel perception has emerged that ours is a particularly dark time for political “truth.” It isn’t. Throughout history, presidential campaigns have been consistently dishonest. But let us be clear who the guilty parties are: the lying politicians and the voters who love them.