“Fine speech is not becoming to a fool; still less is false speech to a prince.”
This proverb is a warning to avoid the fine speech of a fool and the false speech of a misguided leader. It should be noted that fine speech and foolish speech are sometimes found together. Political leaders sometimes use fine speech in order to speak misleading falsehoods. They will give dramatic speeches and make sweeping promises, but sometimes they don’t tell the truth. What they want is the position and power of elected office, and what they say is what a voting block of people want to hear.
Consider the “Green New Deal” that was recently promoted by a very young, very inexperienced person just elected to Congress for the first time. Obviously, I can’t go into all the details here, but this proposed resolution calls for an absurdly radical transformation and overhaul of the American economy, energy use, and infrastructure.
The core talking point -- the central narrative -- is the alleged “existential threat” of climate change. This popular but misguided meme appeals to young people and the liberal left, but it must be asked: What are the credentials and credibility of the young politician who proposed the GND? She has no expertise or experience in business, economics, energy infrastructure, or climate science. She also has no expertise or experience in politics.
However, she is very good at “fine speech.”
When you evaluate the GND, basic wisdom reveals that the financial cost alone would be astronomically prohibitive. It would cost tens of trillions of dollars and require infrastructure work that is virtually impossible to complete. If adopted, the GND would devastate our country. Despite the fiscal, economic, and social realities, the GND has been endorsed by almost every Democratic politician, and especially those Democrats declaring their candidacy for the 2020 presidential election.
Yesterday I saw a fascinating video where these presidential hopefuls publicly and vigorously declared their support for the GND. Over and over these politicians said “Yes” to the GND. “We must act now!” was their common message. But Mitch McConnel, Senate Majority leader, called their bluff. Tuesday of last week he brought up the measure for a vote in the Senate, forcing members to go on record to either support or oppose the GND resolution. Zero senators voted in favor. 57 voted against it, 43 voted “present.” And to repeat, none voted “yes.”
The Democratic presidential hopefuls said yes in public, but did not vote yes in the senate. This includes Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who was the co-sponsor of the GND resolution.
Let’s be clear … Republicans have also been guilty of this kind of inconsistency, so it is not unique or exclusive to Democrats. I use the GND as an example, however, because of the extreme nature of what it proposes, and because it exposes the reckless things politicians will sometimes say to get elected. It also exposes the pernicious partisan politics that currently grip our nation.
The GND is a glaring contemporary example of precisely the message (and warning) we are given in Proverbs 17.7: “Fine speech is not becoming to a fool; still less is false speech to a prince.”
We are living in a time of reckless rhetoric disguised as fine speech. As I wrote earlier this week, discussions of issues are often shallow, polarized, and plagued with misinformation. We desperately need the discipline and wisdom to discern both “the fine speech of a fool and the false speech of a leader.” We must not allow misguided politicians (or anyone else) to deceive us with their misleading messages.
Here is one final scripture that speaks to this: “The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness, and the end of his talk is evil madness.”
May we have ears to hear.