Why the Republican Obsession with Liars, Lying and Gaslighting?

by | May 13, 2021 | Money and Politics, Opinions

Siena, Italy, April 2018: Wooden statue of Pinocchio with donkey ears and long nose. @iStockphoto.

Why the Republican Obsession with Liars, Lying and Gaslighting?

by | May 13, 2021 | Money and Politics, Opinions

Siena, Italy, April 2018: Wooden statue of Pinocchio with donkey ears and long nose. @iStockphoto.

To this day, the former president is still claiming that the 2020 election was stolen from him with massive fraud. Not only is it a lie, it is now labeled “The Big Lie.”

So massive is this falsehood, that the majority of Republicans have endorsed it and are acting on that endorsement in a variety of ways.

  1. New anti-voting bills based on the concept of “massive fraud” are being pushed in numerous states with Republican majority legislatures. These bills are being forwarded as election “integrity” bills but are just thinly veiled voter suppression acts. In a nutshell, Republicans know there was nothing wrong with the election other than a majority of voters siding against them. So, pushing this lie as a ready excuse to make it harder for people to vote—non-Republican voters, they assume.
  2. The leadership of House Republicans have coalesced around Trump and his continuous flow of lies. But the fact of his lie is so obvious it defies understanding until you look at one factor. A huge number of Americans have swallowed this lie completely. And they are voters. These voters are very valuable to the Republican extremists. It is very simple. These voters will believe just about anything. The more insane the statement apparently the better. It worked for Trump why shouldn’t it work for them. All they have to do, they think, is keep forwarding his line and these folks will then swing over and keep them in office. This is political calculus at its most banal, and corrupt, level. Of course, this tends to ignore other troublesome details like insurrection, sedition and outright treason. But what the hell. When confronted with these little facts, today’s Republicans just deny them.
  3. Now we come to the gaslighting of American by people who were elected to uphold the Constitution and who took an oath to do so. The Washington Post reports that seven House Republicans have attempted to recast the violent attack on the Capital as a “Normal tourist visit.” Presumably they didn’t hear the noise or watch any of the videos. Anyone totally perplexed at this level of prevarication should look back at the five years and 30,000 plus lies told by Trump while he ran and “served.” It is plain that these folks care nothing for the Constitution or their oath to uphold it. But what they are upholding is the playbook taught to them by Trump: lie hard and and often and then double down and attack when you get called out.

With the ouster of Liz Cheney—the last member of House Republican leadership that refused to forward the “Big Lie” and who had the temerity to call it out for what it was—what is left of the Republican Party has collapsed into the party of Trump.

Moderates in the party are now threatening to leave it and start a new third party. I sincerely hope that they follow through. It would be utterly refreshing to exit the era of dichotomy politics and open the door to a very different type of political calculus. It could resurrect some long-lost tools in the American legislative arsenal: discourse and compromise.

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