I’ll waste no time in getting right to it today. I came across these astonishingly profound and prescient words by Hannah Arendt that perfectly describe the present peril to democracy as we are discombobulated by Donald Trump’s incessant lies (a documented 3,001 and counting) and flippant accusations (“fake news”). Read them very, very carefully:
“If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie—a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days—but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. 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 also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.” [New York Review of Books, October 26, 1978]
No one has ever stated the enduring menace to American democracy more vividly. And no moment in our living history has more vividly displayed this menace leaping to life. Because, no person or President has ever dominated the media 24/7 with such a nonstop tsunami of obvious lies followed by further obvious lies to override the prior lies—a virtual shingling of our media and our consciousness with overlapping lies that shut out the light of truth with each successive hourly dose of “Breaking News!”
I sense that Americans are becoming benumbed and demoralized by the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of Donald J. Trump’s lies. I also believe that Hannah Arendt’s statement is true: “And with such a people you can then do what you please.”
I don’t expect anything better from Donald J. Trump—a monumentally impaired creature forever engulfed by the quicksand of his most primitive instincts. I do have unlimited contempt and disgust for the Republicans’ complicity in his lies and, therefore, in his probably-impeachable misdeeds. My feelings are alloyed however with a tiny residual compassion for the disgust and contempt they themselves and their families must feel in witnessing their craven conspiracy to allow Trump to trample both truth and democracy. I assume that some of them entered office with good intentions, high-minded values, and abundant self-respect, only to learn that they too could be sucked into the quicksand when their personal moment of truth came upon them.
My hope springs from the fact that, for all our horrific sins as a country and culture, over time we do show some yearning for truth and justice. And that means that November, 2018, will offer Americans a chance to replace the quislings in Congress with new members who will remain faithful to this pledge when their moment of truth comes:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
Without a Democratic majority in Congress to restore a balance of power and an uncompromised pursuit of the truth, we’re pretty much cooked…