When I started this website shortly after the election I wanted to focus on the manner in which politicians mislead us. I figured if we understood how they deceive us, we would be in a better position to get past their slogans and sound bites, and begin to focus on what really matters. My core assumption is that good public policy requires knowing the facts and telling the truth.
Then along came Trump.
Trump and his colleagues have unleashed a torrent of deception unmatched in our history. While many politicians advance their positions by confusing the issues and slanting the facts, most at least recognize the normative value of truth as a guiding principle in public discourse.
Not Trump, whose assault on truth appears to reflect a distain for the very concept of truth itself.
Everyone should read the recent article by James Fallows in The Atlantic (link below), who writes, "[T]he unsettling novelty of Trump is that he tells likes when they're not useful, he tells lies when he knows they can be disproven, he lies and shows less remorse than a lizard when the lie is exposed." But it is more than just lying, it is an attack on the value of truth.
Fallows quotes Bret Stevens, who explains, the president responds to a claim of fact, "not by denying the fact, but by denying the claim that facts are supposed to have on an argument." As far as Trump is concerned, "facts, as most people understand the term, don't matter: That they are indistinguishable from, and interchangeable with, opinion; and that statements of fact needn't have any purchase against a man who is either sufficiently powerful to ignore them or sufficiently shameless to deny them -- or, in his case, both . . . ."
Quoting Hannah Arendt, Fallows notes: "If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not the you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer." "And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but as of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please."
Thinking people are on to Trump. Unfortunately, a lot of people, predisposed to believe the president, are gradually losing their capacity to think and to judge. Unable to distinguish fact from fiction, they will eventually lose their ability to act.