There are no less than three non-fiction titles on the New York Times best seller list that are pro-Trump apologetics. The titles, Such as The Russia Hoax and Liars, Leakers, and Liberals, clearly demonstrate a predilection for believing Trump’s wild claims and denials at the expense of demonstrated facts.
From early days in Trump’s improbable ascendancy to the presidency of the United States, Trump has boldly spewed bald-faced lies. He started to gain support based on the untrue and racist rumor that President Barack Obama was really born in Kenya. His platform itself was built on lies. As pointed out in The Washington Post, Trump’s claims that immigrants were crossing the border in record numbers, creating a massive crime wave in America, were demonstrably false. (“When it comes to lying, Trump is nonstop,” Washington Post, July 13, 2018)
The lies continued when Trump was elected, and many people were dumbfounded at how ridiculous it seemed that he would make such an issue of lying about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. Kelly Anne Conway’s coining the term “alternative facts” came shortly after such preposterous lies were called out by the media, which Trump and his supporters have tried to paint as the enemy of the people.
In fact, if you go on the PolitiFact website, you can find ten pages of Trump lies. It just goes on and on. The more he lies, the less his supporters seem to care about what is really true. They simply shout “Fake news!” and continue to fawn at Trumpian feet.
The assault on truth is incredibly disturbing. Without agreement about what constitutes reality, reality becomes subject to those with the power and money to shout the loudest and make their message most prominent. In his seminal novel 1984, George Orwell presciently describes a dystopian world controlled by Big Brother: “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” More and more, the ominous words from that futuristic work hit closer and closer to home. (Another noteworthy quote from the novel: “Ignorance is strength.”)
Trump’s lies about Russian interference in the 2016 election are particularly damaging. With only minimal protest on the part of Republicans, Trump has painted the Robert Mueller investigation as a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.” He has cozied up to Vladimir Putin, meeting him privately and making God only knows what concessions to a ruthless dictator from a country that has been a sworn enemy of the U.S. since shortly after World War II. Presumably in order to shield himself from accusations of collusion with Russia, he has gone on the attack against our highest law enforcement and intelligence communities.
Presidents in the past have lied, sometimes egregiously. Lies and coverups are what brought down the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. And although Bill Clinton survived a seamy sex scandal, impeachment based on lying to Congress, and numerous other questions that cropped up during his two terms as president, these lies came back to haunt Hillary Clinton in her bid for the presidency in 2016.
I am not claiming Donald Trump colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. But if Trump is willing to lie about things as inconsequential as the size of an inauguration crowd, I have to wonder what other forms of dishonesty he is willing to engage in to grasp and hold onto power. It’s my hope that if there is any truth to the seeming conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, that truth will come to light and the American people will hold this president to account as they have presidents in the past.
As a nation, we need to hold fast to our ideals about honesty and integrity. Without them, we become no better or more free than the some of the worst autocracies we see around the world. Truth is always something to seek and hold onto, no matter the cost. Let’s hope that for the sake of our democracy, “The truth will out.”