Hey all, it’s been a while. Despite the lapse in posting, a lot has been on my mind. At the forefront, today, is this analysis by the Washington Post revealing that Donald Trump has now surpassed the 2,000 mark in overtly false or misleading claims since taking office last January. You can read the article here.
One Big Liar
It’s a staggering number — roughly 5.6 per day. Our president simply lies, chronically, overtly, and without shame. But perhaps even more shocking is how many people in America still support him, despite his Ruthian prolificacy at lying.
Which begs the question, how? How can anyone — let alone tens of millions of people — continue to believe in and support a president so objectively and verifiably dishonest? How can so many believe so many lies?
One Big Lie
The answer, I think, is fairly simple. It all boils down to what I call the “One Big Lie.” The One Big Lie started out as a simple narrative with (arguably) just enough of a kernel of truth to take seed: that the mainstream media, and in particular, the major television news networks at the time, had a liberal bias. Over time, the narrative was expanded to include not only television news, but other purveyors of thought, information, and opinion that conflicted with a neo-Christian/conservative worldview and its emerging political agenda. The One Big Lie now encompasses not only the mainstream media, but the vast majority of our nation’s newspapers, journalists, intellectuals, scientists, writers, thinkers, historians, philosophers, fact-checkers, and many others. Anyone or any thing that does not adhere or conform to strict conservative orthodoxy is now covered under the One Big Lie.
It was a simple, brilliant strategy. The One Big Lie is a threshold lie. If you can convince people to believe it, then a thousand other lies can be spread like butter. And it wasn’t a hard sell, because the One Big Lie tells people what they want to believe — that they are right, and that the people and facts that conflict with their beliefs are wrong and need not be given any credence.
One Big Mess
Everything in American politics changed with the One Big Lie. I believe it to be the most significant political and cultural development in America over the past 50 years, and it could prove to be the most significant ever. It could, feasibly, lead us into a nuclear war. Less fatalistic, but equally dire, is that it could prove the undoing of what was once the world’s greatest democracy.
In many ways, it’s already happening. Who could have imagined twenty years ago that we would now have a reality tv star for a president, who rose to political prominence by advancing a false conspiracy theory against a sitting president with the aid and support of a media empire holding itself out as a “fair and balanced” news agency? That we would have a president with no history of public service, no knowledge of world events, no conception of history, no understanding of our Constitution, and no grasp on policy? One who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by at least 19 women, and was caught on tape bragging about grabbing women’s crotches without their consent? One who lies with impunity 5.6 per times per day, who criticizes and defames our press, our legal system, our justice department, and our federal law enforcement officials, among numerous others? Who conducts foreign policy via twitter, derisively mocking other world leaders with pet nicknames like “rocket boy,” and praises foreign enemies while putting down our allies?
Who foresaw that we would now have heads of government agencies with no substantive knowledge or experience in their areas of responsibility, whose primary goals are to undermine or destroy the very agencies they serve? That we would have a ruling party in Congress that refuses to investigate, acknowledge, or rectify proven foreign interference in our electoral process, and are actively engaged in covering up possible collusion and corruption by our president? Who are rushing bills to vote in their barest, preliminary draft forms, without hearings or public debates or comment periods, let alone analysis by neutral government agencies regarding their possible effect? That pedophiles and convicted criminals like Roy Moore and Joe Arpaio would be viable candidates for the U.S. Senate? That known alt-right racists and conspiracy theorists would have positions in the White House?
All of it is as bad as it sounds, and worse. All was made possible by the One Big Lie. And all of it could bring us down.
One Big Challenge
How this all ends is yet to be written, but one thing seems certain to me: if we’re ever going to restore sanity, balance, and true democratic principles to our country, we’re going to have to begin making inroads into reversing the One Big Lie. If we’re ever going to begin bridging the political divide between us, finding bi-partisan solutions to real problems, and seeking common ground in our ongoing culture wars, we must penetrate the One Big Lie. This may well be the defining challenge of our times.
As always, my best to all, and thanks for reading. – T