I know I should be posting about the fact that the entire Environmental Protection Agency was essentially put on ice this morning, or that Trump just hinted about the possibility of martial law in Chicago, or that the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipeline projects have been brought back to life by executive action, but all I feel compelled to write about right now about are Trump’s increasingly brazen lies. I realize that it’s all likely a stunt, somethng to keep us off-balance and distracted while the agencies that exist to protect us are being gutted, and our public assets are being given away to the wealthy donor class, but, regardless of how hard I try, I find that I keep coming back to the lies, which seem to be growing more outrageous by the day, to the point where, yesterday, Trump told CIA employees that the skies over D.C. became “really sunny” as he was concluding his inauguration speech, despite the fact that, as we all saw with our own eyes, it remained cloudy and raining throughout.
It’s one thing to lie about things that are difficult to prove, like whether or not you exchanged messages with the Kremlin during the election, but who lies about things that are so easily disproven? Who says it was sunny outside when it wasn’t? Who says that up to “a million and a half” people were are the inauguration, when actual photos exist that tell a much different story? But yet he does it. Trump not only lies with reckless abandon, but he refuses to let go when proven wrong. He digs in his heels, he fights, and he somehow convinces a good number of our fellow Americans to disregard their senses and accept his version of truth. And, like a lot of people, I just can’t turn away from it. I just can’t accept that we, as a nation, are actually debating the existence of “alternate facts.” I guess, in retrospect, given how Republicans have dealt with issues like global climate change for the past several decades, telling us that 99% of scientists can’t be trusted, it shouldn’t be a surprise, but I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that this is actually the world we now live in. And it’s completely draining my outrage reservoir, leaving very little for the evil that’s actually being done right now by way of executive order. [Speaking of which, I just heard that Trump is expected to sign the executive order for the border wall tomorrow.]
What consumed me today was the news that, last night, Trump, meeting with congressional leaders at the White House, claimed yet again that he not only won the electoral vote but also the popular vote this past November, suggesting that 3 million to 5 million votes cast for Clinton were cast by “illegals.” [The official vote count has Trump losing the popular vote by over 2,864,000.] And he makes this claim in spite of the fact that it’s been debunked by very credible sources several times. This instance is so egregious, in fact, that the New York Times, in a headline published this morning, called him out for being a “liar”, which is an incredibly big deal for the paper of record. But there’s really no other way to say it. It’s a boldfaced lie, with absolutely no basis in reality.
[“President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority,” the Times reported, “a return to his obsession with the election’s results even as he seeks support for his legislative agenda.”]
While Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called Trump to task for his comments, I can’t find much evidence of others in Congress doing the same, which concerns me greatly. Here, for those of you who haven’t read it, is what Graham told reporters.
“To continue to suggest that the 2016 election was conducted in a fashion that millions of people voted illegally undermines faith in our democracy. It’s not coming from a candidate for the office, it’s coming from the man who holds the office. So I am begging the president, share with us the information you have about this or please stop saying it. As a matter of fact I’d like you to do more than stop saying it. I’d like you to come forward and say having looked at it I am confident the election was fair and accurate and people who voted voted legally. Cause if he doesn’t do that, this is going to undermine his ability to govern this country.”
When asked about this most recent lie earlier today, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the President, saying that Trump does feel as though millions of Americans voted illegally “based on studies and information he has.” When asked if Trump might make this evidence public, or call for a voter fraud investigation, Spicer responded by saying, “maybe we will.” And people, for the most part, don’t seem to be up in arms about this. [Apparently, it would seem, when a President lies about receiving a blowjob, it’s an impeachable offense, but when he lies about the sanctity of our entire electoral system, it’s something we’re supposed to just accept.]
And, with that, I’ve spent another evening of my life digging for information about a specific Trump lie instead of sharpening my pitchfork, lighting my torch, and taking to the street.
Like I said at the beginning of the post, I’m torn as to how much time I should devote to Trump’s lying. Or at least I was. I think, over the course of writing this, I’ve come to the conclusion that the truth is something worth fighting for. How this will manifest itself here on the site, I’m not sure, but I’m slowly forming a kind of platform for myself that includes things like widening voter access, non-partisan redistricting, campaign finance reform, strengthening public education, and funding alternative energy research, and defending the truth is definitely going to be part of it. Yes, I do think these brazen lies of Trump’s, which are now also being echoed by administration officials like Spicer and Conway, are in large part made just to keep us off balance, and divide us, and force those on the far right even further to the “there is no truth” fringes, but, if we don’t fight back, the entire foundation upon which this nation is built is likely to rot and crumble beneath our feet.
Where there’s no truth, there’s no future.
Without facts, there’s no science.
And, without science, we might as well all be dead.
As for how we fight on behalf of truth, I’m not sure. I guess we could wear something distinctive, like safety pins, or knitted pussy hats. Or maybe we could start a new organization, like the Tea Party, only built on fact and respectful debate instead of conspiracy theory and fear. Or maybe we could all be signs in the windows of our homes saying something like, “This Family Believes in Facts.” Or maybe we just demand that our leaders sign an oath, assuring us that they’re defend the truth. That would be a pretty good start, wouldn’t it? I mean, it worked for Grover Norquist, who, for decades, successfully forced Republicans to sign his tax-cutting pledge. Why wouldn’t it work to put a pledge in front of our elected representatives demanding that they stay tethered to the real, fact-based world? Of course, if Republicans signed, they’d have to cede the fight over global climate change, but maybe some, seeing where these lies have gotten us, are ready.
Here, on the subject of holding our elected representatives accountable when it comes to defending the truth, is something that Dan Rather shared yesterday on social media.
These are not normal times. These are extraordinary times. And extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
When you have a spokesperson for the president of the United States wrap up a lie in the Orwellian phrase “alternative facts”…
When you have a press secretary in his first appearance before the White House reporters threaten, bully, lie, and then walk out of the briefing room without the cajones to answer a single question…
When you have a President stand before the stars of the fallen CIA agents and boast about the size of his crowds (lies) and how great his authoritarian inaugural speech was…
These are not normal times.
The press has never seen anything like this before. The public has never seen anything like this before. And the political leaders of both parties have never seen anything like this before.
What can we do? We can all step up and say simply and without equivocation. “A lie, is a lie, is a lie!” And if someone won’t say it, those of us who know that there is such a thing as the truth must do whatever is in our power to diminish the liar’s malignant reach into our society.
There is one group of people who can do a lot – very quickly. And that is Republicans in Congress. Without their support, Donald Trump’s presidency will falter. So here is what I think everyone in the press must do. If you are interviewing a Paul Ryan, a Mitch McConnell, or any other GOP elected official, the first question must be “what will you do to combat the lying from the White House?” If they dodge and weave, keep with the follow ups. And if they refuse to give a satisfactory answer, end the interview.
Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question.
So how do we fight back on behalf of the truth? Do we start a Rosie the Riveter like campaign? Do we take some message to the streets, tagging all of America over a single weekend with a simple message? Do we confront our elected officials, demanding that they either stand up to the lies or step aside? Let me know your thoughts and ideas. I feel like a fight, and I think this is the fight I want to have.