Trump’s still waging a war on truth — and it’s still bad for democracy


Final month, as hundreds of former President Trump’s loyal supporters waited for him at a rally in Ohio, a chant rose from the gang.

“Trump gained!” they roared. “Trump gained!”

The previous president agreed. “We gained the election twice,” he mentioned, “and it’s potential we’ll must win it a 3rd time.”

Eight months after he misplaced convincingly to President Biden, Trump and his followers are studiously sustaining another actuality — and having exceptional success conserving the fiction alive.

Virtually two-thirds of GOP voters advised pollsters in one latest survey that they’re nonetheless satisfied the election was stolen — a quantity that hasn’t modified a lot since November.

This isn’t a innocent train in political puffery; it deepens the polarization of American politics and weakens democracy.

The cost that the election was stolen doesn’t merely flatter Trump; it’s additionally an try to delegitimize Biden.

It makes it politically harmful for Republicans in Congress to collaborate with the administration — for why would anybody loyal to Trump negotiate with a usurper?

The falsehood persists although Republican officeholders have run investigations that debunk it.

Final month, a GOP-led probe in Michigan discovered that the Trump camp’s fees of voting irregularities there have been nothing greater than “blatherskite.”

Former Atty. Gen. William Barr, a Trump appointee, gave ABC Information his pithy judgment of the president’s fees: “It was all bull—.”

However most of the GOP devoted seem nearly resistant to proof.

The fantasy hasn’t stayed alive by itself; Trump has spent a lot of his time since leaving workplace stoking his claims and warning Republican politicians that he’ll torpedo their careers in the event that they don’t again him up.

“In the event that they don’t, I’ve little doubt that they are going to be primaried and rapidly run out of workplace,” he mentioned in a written assertion final month.

GOP politicians, afraid of Trump’s wrath, both tiptoe round the fantasy or take part selling it.

Arizona legislators have been auditing election outcomes for greater than two months; final week one GOP chief referred to as for yet one more recount after the present audit is full. Legislators in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, bowing to strain from Trump, have mentioned they’re searching for audits or recounts as properly. The Washington Submit reported final week that tons of of Republican candidates are campaigning on guarantees to loyally pursue Trump’s claims.

There’s no thriller why Trump desires to maintain his baseless narrative alive. The fiction transforms him from a loser to, if not a winner, a minimum of a sufferer.

It maintains his presumptive declare on his occasion’s 2024 presidential nomination if he decides to hunt it and offers him a trigger round which he can increase cash.

The results go properly past Trump’s political future. As Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Establishment writes in his essential new e-book, “The Structure of Information: A Protection of Fact”: “When compromise fails, ungovernability units in.”

Rauch argues that one root of our present political disaster is an “epistemic conflict,” a battle over whether or not such a factor as goal reality exists — or whether or not politicians ought to be free, as one Trump aide argued, to invent “various information.”

“Epistemic warfare is now the modus operandi of the Republican Celebration,” Rauch advised me final week. “It’s change into an alternative to ideology or coverage.”

He mentioned he considers Trump “the best innovator in disinformation because the 1930s.” (And sure, he means since Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.)

Rauch’s title, “The Structure of Information,” refers to his argument that People with differing beliefs must agree on fundamental rules about reality, simply as politicians with differing views adhere to the identical Structure.

“Individuals needn’t and can’t all agree that the identical issues are true, however a important mass must … assist norms like freedom of expression, mental pluralism, dedication to studying and respect for factuality and truthfulness,” he writes.

Is there a means out of this disaster?

There’s, Rauch argues — however it’s going to take effort and time from lots of people.

Media organizations have stopped mindlessly spreading Trump’s most egregious lies, as some did in his first presidential marketing campaign in 2016. Now they should reinvest in fact-based journalism and in additional and higher fact-checking.

Social media networks like Fb, Twitter and YouTube nonetheless battle to seek out workable guidelines to curb disinformation — however a minimum of they’ve principally acknowledged that spreading falsehoods is a bug, not a function.

And particular person residents want to affix the battle by searching for higher sources of knowledge than their Fb feeds and rewarding politicians who arise for the reality.

“It’s going to take all of society,” Rauch mentioned. That’s daunting, however historical past provides grounds for hope, he added — once more recalling the 1930s. “The fact-based group has withstood a lot worse.”


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