Jon Sanders

Called "the definitive Democratic insider" by The News & Observer of Raleigh, campaign adviser Gary Pearce has worked for several notable North Carolina Democrats, from Sen. John Edwards to four-time Gov. Jim Hunt, former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker, and Senate candidate Erskine Bowles (who was White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton and is now the president of the University of North Carolina).

Right now Pearce co-writes the "Talking About Politics" blog about politics with longtime Republican adviser Carter Wrenn (whose clients included the late Sen. Jesse Helms). Pearce recently told the N&O, "I'm willing to be more candid than are most partisans. I'm not spinning anybody anymore."

That candidness was on display this month when this definitive Democratic insider wrote the following: "liberals (or progressives or whatever you prefer) have to understand that your candidates don’t have the luxury of the right-wingers: They can’t always say exactly what they believe — and still get elected."

In case you think Pearce isn't saying what it sounds like he's saying, he sums it up: "In politics, as Winston Churchill once said about war, victory sometimes requires a bodyguard of lies."

Please note. American politics isn't war. Our Founders have handed us down a system that is noteworthy for many things, among them the peaceful transition of power (sloganized as "Ballots, not bullets").

Furthermore, this is not at all to suggest that Republicans haven't fibbed during an election. After all, "Read my lips" — the most infamous preamble to a campaign whopper — was of GOP origin. And besides, it is an irreplaceable Christian doctrine that all people sin, and by extension, that lying is human nature. In that respect politicians may be the most human among us.

But a line is crossed when lying goes beyond human fallibility and campaign hubris and becomes instead a deliberate strategy. That line is what separates recognizing that there is truth and a moral law above our mundane affairs that must be upheld and seeking power by any means necessary not beholden to any morality except that of your own whimsy that day.


Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.


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