An article titled, “Why does President Trump get away with lying?,” recently appeared in the November 20, 2018 Newsweek.
Written by Lee McIntyre, the article focused on Trump’s motivation. Some excerpts:
Most politicians lie. And if most politicians lie, then why are some Americans so hard on President Donald Trump?
According to The Washington Post, Trump has told 6,420 lies so far in his presidency. In the seven weeks leading up to the midterms, his rate increased to 30 per day.
That’s a lot, but isn’t this a difference in degree and not a difference in kind with other politicians?
Every human being on earth has told lies. The difference between Trump and normal human beings is both in degree and in kind.
Yet the difference in Trump’s prevarication seems to be found not in the quantity or enormity of his lies, but in the way that Trump uses his lies in service to a proto-authoritarian political ideology.
I recently wrote a book, titled Post-Truth, about what happens when “alternative facts” replace actual facts, and feelings have more weight than evidence. Looked at from this perspective, calling Trump a liar fails to capture his key strategic purpose.
Any amateur politician can engage in lying. Trump is engaging in “post-truth.”
Ideology, in other words, takes precedence over reality.
As Yale philosopher Jason Stanley argues, “The key thing is that fascist politics is about identifying enemies, appealing to the in-group (usually the majority group), and smashing truth and replacing it with power.”
Consider the example of Trump’s recent decision not to cancel two political rallies on the same day as the Pittsburgh massacre. He said that this was based on the fact that the New York Stock Exchange was open the day after 9/11.
This isn’t true. The stock exchange stayed closed for six days after 9/11.
So was this a mistake? A lie? Trump didn’t seem to treat it so. In fact, he repeated the falsehood later in the same day.
Why would he do this?
The point of a lie is to convince someone that a falsehood is true. But the point of post-truth is domination.
When Trump lies he does so not to get someone to accept what he’s saying as true, but to show that he is powerful enough to say it.
Just to remind you, the title of McIntyre’s article is, “Why does President Trump get away with lying.”
Unfortunately, the article does not address that question.
The words, “get away with,” do not ask why Trump lies. They ask why his lying goes unpunished.
Those who see Trump not only as a liar, but as a dangerous, incompetent, immoral psychopath — an obvious, and dangerous, incompetent, immoral psychopath — are mystified that millions of people willingly ignore and even defend his lies, the danger, his incompetence, and his psychotic behavior.
“How can they be oblivious to what he is?” some ask. “Are they stupid? Are they immoral, themselves?”
There is an answer.
Imagine you are married to a plain looking woman, but when she wakes up in the morning, her hair askew and her face creased by pillow wrinkles, you kiss her and tell her she is the most beautiful woman in the world.
She knows you are lying, but she enjoys your lie. She married you to protect her from the pain of reality, and from the danger of the truth. She is soothed by your lies.
If they are poor, they want to be told it is not their fault, but rather the fault lies with immigrants who steal jobs and change America from the beautiful place it once was.
If they are rich, they want someone to tell them he will distance them from life’s dangers by applying Gap Psychology, and keeping down the madding crowd.
If they have lost hope, they want someone to give them hope that “something will be done” about “aliens” — Muslims, Mexicans, gays, browns, yellows or blacks, who commit crimes, rape, pillage, and murder.
They don’t care that Trump boasts virtually every awful characteristic a human can have.
Trump doesn’t just “get away” with lying. His followers are not shocked by his lies. Like the “white” lies you told the plain-looking woman:
Trump’s lies are what his followers want.
If Trump stopped lying — if he opened his followers’ eyes to reality — they would abandon him. Reality is an anathema to Trump’s followers.
What’s important to Trump’s followers is that he hates the same people they hate. Like Hitler’s, Trump’s following is based on hatred.
It is no surprise that Trump, formerly a liberal, has been adopted by conservatives. They are the people who abhor progress. They want to conserve things as they were in some make-believe version of 1950s America.
Thus the slogan, “Make America Great Again.” The key word, is “again.”
A conservative wants to conserve the innocent past, when things were blissful, and “aliens” did not have so much power — when these people knew “their place.”
Conservatives do not dream. They do not send men to the moon, nor dream of Mars. They do not wish to learn of other cultures. They do not try to reduce poverty with a “Social Security” or “Medicare for all plan.” They do not open their arms to the “tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Conservatives abhor the liberal dream of equality and prosperity for all, not because the dream is unrealistic — the “Ten Steps to Prosperity” could take us there — but because the dream is a danger to the illusory past.
Trump and his lies protect them from that.
Ironically, Trump imprisons his followers in his cage of lies. He wants to build walls, to create fortress America, to lock up his followers, and make their lives worse, ever worse.
While he and his family and his minions gain power, the rest will lose it.
Today’s politicians have lost the ability to dream for America. For them, no progress is possible. Cut budgets for science, while abusing it. No help for education or the arts.
“The federal government needs to get out of the education business and let the states, local districts and parents determine what is taught in our schools.”
Re. the National Endowment for the Arts: “The Congress, as representatives of the people, make the determination as to what the spending priorities ought to be.”
Now fifty years have passed since Americans have touched the moon, and we have no more dreams. We pull each other down, like lobsters in a bucket. Every dream is sneered at as being “unaffordable” and “unsustainable.”
Instead of free education for all people, we give tax cuts to the rich. We send troops to the border to protect us from foreigners who dream of creating a better world.
America was populated and built by dreamers, who came from other lands and other cultures. Together, they are what really made America great.
Now, instead of dreams, we settle for a despot’s lies to a stagnant old America. Rather than accepting the challenge to climb and grow, we want only to keep what we have, away from change and mythical invaders.
That is how Trump gets away with lying. Progressives imagine a better tomorrow. Conservatives imagine a better yesterday.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary SovereigntyTwitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereigntyFacebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.
Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.
Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:
Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. Eliminate FICA
2. Federally funded medicare — parts a, b & d, plus long-term care — for everyone
3. Provide a monthly economic bonus to every man, woman and child in America (similar to social security for all)
4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
5. Salary for attending school
6. Eliminate federal taxes on business
7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually.
8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
9. Federal ownership of all banks
10.Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9%
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.