Sincerity, authenticity and truth in America


If I had more confidence and time I would write something about our modern obsession with sincerity and authenticity. We want it from our burgers and our furniture. We want  a narrative that tells us our chest of draws or cheeseburger is more than just a product. It has to have a story, a narrative, be real, to comport with some Platonic form, rather than a processed, MDF patty. And we want it from our politicians, to know that they really believe what they say and that their beliefs are rooted in some kind of experience.

But have we confused sincerity and authenticity with truth? That is what I come away with after watching the extraordinary Senate judiciary committee hearing on Thursday.

Both accused and accuser were sincere. Brett Kavananaugh displayed his rage after a much meeker performance on Fox News earlier in the week (I suspect after the White House told him anger would play better, be perceived as more real for a wronged public figure). And there’s no doubt that Christine Blasey Ford is a credible witness, who believes what she says. She fits how I imagine a victim – or survivor – of such an assault would behave.

Republican and Democrat senators also displayed the same levels of sincerity. They believe. Deeply. In spittle-flecked surround sound Technicolour. They showed they were really real with every angry shout and pointed question.

Yet we seem no closer to the truth. And this – or at least some kind of approximation of it – surely must be what we seek. Our obsession with sincerity and authenticity seems to be costing us something.

This is my piece on America’s low point.


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