Maybe it’s in the stars. At least it’s possible with The Hill highlighting an AP report: “A new 3D map of 1,399 pulsating stars in the universe reveals that our Milky Way galaxy is warped and twisted around the edges.” It makes me feel better about the human race. Since our universe is warped and twisted, maybe that gives us some breathing space when it comes to our own performance.

Which brings me to the President’s State of the Union speech. By now, if you’ve been watching or listening to the news, the pundits, or the comedy shows, you’d think there were half dozen presidents, each delivering his own speech. My take? Unless a speech is riveting, 82 minutes is too long. And when one of the most memorable moments was when the President was citing the large increase in working women, and the white-clad female new Democratic Representatives stood and cheered, and the President chuckled at the obvious backfire, we have to admit that much of the rest of the speech was pretty ho-hum.

The fact-checkers are burning up their computers to find lies, mistruths, and verifications. Of course they’ve found all three. TV news channels are interviewing “average Americans” to get their response to the speech. I wonder, in a galaxy that’s warped and twisted, can there be any such thing as an average anyone?

And can there be any such thing as truth that isn’t warped and twisted? If not, then how can any democracy have a basis that isn’t warped and twisted? Sounds pessimistic, right? Except it’s not. Because our nation’s founders established the Constitution with the belief that humans are warped and twisted. That’s why they created the three branches of government: presidential, legislative, and judicial, giving each the power to check and balance the others.

That power must rest on one key element: truth. No, we do not have a grasp of absolute truth. But we can come close to truth when we support and practice putting ideas forth, testing them against what is known and verifiable, and then debating them until what’s left is as close to the truth as we can get.

It is heartening this week that a number of members of Congress, both Democratic and Republican, are meeting to draft a bipartisan proposal to fund the government and provide long term solutions for immigration. We hope that partisan pressure, and lies and threats from the President won’t sidetrack or impede their work. And we hope that when a proposal does come forth, the President won’t veto it to satisfy his minority base.

Truth. Without it, legislation stalls. Government gridlocks. The country stagnates. People cynically turn their backs on our political system. And democracy dies.

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