Donald Trump and the spectacle of lying

Filed under COLUMNISTS, OPINION

00_LeeDaniels02During his march to the Republican
Party nomination, Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded that all Muslims should be barred from
entering the U.S., making it a cornerstone of his campaign.

Last week, he declared that idea was “just a suggestion.” Which statement was the lie?

Throughout his campaign, Trump displayed a firm allegiance to the Republican orthodoxy against raising the federal minimum wage. Until this month, when he said he favors raising the federal minimum wage. Which declaration was the lie?

Lied again
Trump promised to follow political tradition and release his tax returns as other candidates have done since the early 1970s. Last week, he said he wouldn’t do so before the November election because a federal audit of his taxes wouldn’t be finished that soon. Which of those statements is a lie?

Get the picture? The Republican presidential nominee has only one standard: Lie continually about anything and everything.

Earlier this month, the “Fact Checker” columnist of the Washington Post noted that 26 separate times thus far during his campaign, the column has given Trump “Four Pinocchios” for statements he’s made – meaning that Trump was brazenly lying when he made them.

The article said that “most politicians will drop a talking point if it gets labeled with ‘Four Pinocchios’ by the Fact Checker or ‘Pants on Fire’ by PolitiFact (another widely-respected journalistic fact-checking operation). No one wants to be tagged a liar or misinformed, and we’ve found most politicians are interested in getting the facts straight ….”

Lies over and over
“But,” the passage continues, “… Trump makes Four-Pinocchio statements over and over again, even though fact checkers have demonstrated them to be false. He appears to care little about the facts; his staff does not even bother to respond to fact-checking inquiries.”

Trump’s propensity for lying likely stems from his own overweening insecurity and vanity. But there are broader forces at work.

Political scholar Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute told PolitiFact that among them are the public’s desensitization to inflammatory rhetoric; the right-wing’s assault on science and expertise; and the increasing influence of partisan media in American society during the last three decades. Those negative forces have intensified during the last eight years, as the conservative movement encouraged a politicized race war against Barack Obama.

There’s plenty of evidence that Trump’s supporters are thrilled by his inconsistent and incoherent policy positions, and his outright lies. On the one hand, they regard his outwitting the media and both parties as their revenge against the “elite.” And they cheer his win-by-any-means-necessary attitude because they, like him, want to dominate everyone else and they don’t care how they get to do that.

Conservative desperate
Trump has shown the world how willing a segment of White conservatives is to shed all the “values” they’ve been pretending they exalt if it’ll restore the one thing they hold most dear: White conservative rule. That’s why more and more overt White racist groups and individuals have openly endorsed Trump (endorsements that he ‘disavows’).

There hasn’t been such a prominent, openly racist candidate running for president since Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace in 1968 and1972. Trump is using the same strategy – bigotry and the Big Lie – that enabled legalized racism to operate so brazenly in the South and less so in the North for nearly a century after the Civil War.

Ironically, Trump’s supporters are so blinded by their bigotry they can’t see they’re being suckered by Trump, the “elite” demagogue, in the same way the Southern segregationist politicians fooled that region’s White populace about the racial realities of America’s future – and the now-hated GOP establishment fooled White conservatives these last eight years by promising to defeat Obama.

You can fool some of the people all of the time.

Lee A. Daniels is a former editor of The National Urban League’s The State of Black America.

Contact him at leedanielsjournalist@gmail.com.

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