This is WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST. The question of our times is, “Will the Lie defeat the Truth?”
Believing the Unbelievable
Two months into Trump’s presidency, I published an op/ed titled “Believing the Unbelievable.” At that time, the “unbelievable” included the obvious falsehoods of Trump’s claims about his gigantic inaugural crowd, and the miraculous clearing of the weather just in time for Trump’s inaugural speech.
Trump’s True Believers, faced with that old comic question, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” were apparently choosing to disregard the obvious truth before them and stick with the leader of their personality cult.
This was worrisome even back then at the beginning of Trump’s presidency. As I said in concluding that piece,
Our founders gave us a government that is supposed to operate by “the consent of the governed.” But what they had in mind is informed consent. A public trained to give misinformed consent, however, helps drive the American system of government in the direction of the tyranny our founders sought to prevent.
As the impeachment process now moves forward, we come up against this incredible phenomenon of cult-members holding literally incredible beliefs.
(Not all of this belief in the incredible has to do with Trump. Consider for example how Republican voters have harkened to their leaders’ lies about climate change, choosing the word of fossil-fuel-funded politicians over the virtually unanimous warnings from an entire field of thousands of scientists from across the globe.)
One illustration of the consequences of these cultists’ drinking the Kool-Aid is their belief that President Trump is innocent of any crimes of “obstruction of justice.” Trump — abetted by the most corrupt Attorney General in American history — declared himself exonerated, and they believe it.
They can apparently maintain that belief in the face of the fact that over 1000 former Justice Department Officials issued an extraordinary statement, after reading the Mueller Report, declaring that it shows clearly that Trump committed “multiple felonies” of obstruction for which anyone not the President would be indicted.
Similarly, with the conduct more recently displayed by President Trump in his telephone conversation with the President of Ukraine.
In response to my piece last Saturday, “The Place of Ukraine-gate in the Impeachment Saga,” where it appeared online, one Trumpian called Ukraine-gate “yet another sham confused for a scandal.” I responded by asking whether he’d read the call’s transcript that had been released by the White House itself. He replied, “Yeah, I read it, Andy. Nothing inappropriate.”
In response to that, I wrote:
“I guess you know better than the more than 300 former national security professionals — including people appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents — who have declared that “President Trump appears to have leveraged the authority and resources of the highest office in the land to invite additional foreign interference into our democratic processes.”
And further “That would constitute an unconscionable abuse of power. It also would represent an effort to subordinate America’s national interests — and those of our closest allies and partners — to the president’s personal political interest.”
But of course, those who have drunk the Kool-Aid will always know better than hundreds of patriots — of both parties — who dedicated their careers to American national security.
When the Cult Goes After the Truth-tellers (Like Reps. Spanberger and Luria)
Among those patriots are the seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives — including two from Virginia, Reps. Luria and Spanberger — who wrote a powerful and politically courageous op/ed after the Ukraine scandal had been exposed.
These members of Congress declared, of the President’s evident sacrifice of our national security to serve his own personal quest for power, that “These new allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect.”
But despite the “smoking gun” of the document the Trump White House itself had released, the Republicans — wholly devoted to the President whose lies in office passed 12,000 some time back — have launched attacks on these patriotic congressmen-and-women.
They are determined to inflame their followers in the service of yet another Trump/Republican lie. And the evidence is, they will succeed.
But only up to a point. (Only with those who are too far gone into cultish consciousness to hear anything but the voice of their leaders.)
Already, the polls are showing that the truth still has power.
This latest scandal — where the truth is both relatively simple and vividly displayed in what amounts to confessions from Trump himself — has moved public opinion regarding Trump.
Even Republican support has shown some cracks. (Some 17% of them believe that impeachment is appropriate.) Since the breaking of this latest Ukraine-gate scandal, the shift against Trump and for impeachment has been especially large among Independents.
The latest poll show that not only do more Americans support than oppose impeachment, but likewise more say that Trump should be removed.
So how will truth-tellers like Spanberger and Luria fare under this attack?
My bet is that any district that could elect those Democrats in 2018 are not so red — do not have so many voters who are far gone into the cult-mind — that they will go with the cult of Trump in 2020.
If already 17% of Republicans support the movement toward impeachment, if Independents are moving strongly in that direction, and if Democrats remain activated as they were in 2018 (as they surely should be– especially if Trump has survived to be on the ballot), I do not believe that the Lie will defeat the Truth in that election.
(My one major concern is whether the Democrats have the skill to wield the Truth as powerfully as the truth about this Presidency warrants. It cannot be just a lawyerly argument. It must touch the passions of moral outrage on the negative side and love of country — and of its basic values — on the other.)