Donald Trump claimed 1.5 million people were at his inauguration. Estimates are almost all in the 200,000 range. He sent his press secretary out to dispute claims the crowd was smaller than Obama’s. Sean Spicer claimed that the “grass protecting plastic” made it appear like fewer people were there.
The picture on the left is from January 20, 2017. On the right is January 20, 2009. There is no way to deny that Obama’s crowd was massive compared to Trump’s. When his spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway was asked why the press secretary was sent out to lie, she dodged, weaved, and finally said he was giving “alternate facts.”
If the President is so shameless with his lies over something this easy to verify, this obvious, then how can we trust what he has about threats to the country and other issues where we lack first hand information?
People say all politicians lie. In reality, all people lie. But not all the time, and often with a particular reason. President Trump seems to be in a different class – the truth is irrelevant, whatever “fact” would serve Trump, that fact is posited as truth.
To be fair to Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, he said he learned his techniques from Madison Avenue – the advertising business. Truth is most easily subverted if people are being led by emotion. The desire to believe will overcome the capacity to critically assess. Those who try to promote truth will be derided as “dividers, traitors, subversives,” or to quote Rush Limbaugh, “Libtards.”
Even those who supported Trump, who believe he’ll do a good job, should be troubled by his lack of scruples. He doesn’t care if it’s obvious he’s lying, he’ll do so anyway because he knows his supporters want to believe him. He’s created an emotional connection to his “brand” and that trumps reason. (Pun intended)
I don’t believe it will work. The ridicule being heaped on Conway and Trump over these claims shows that the media and the public are ready to fight back. The Women’s March (which I will write more about) demonstrates the beginning of a global movement. But it’s essential that all Americans, even those who support Trump be united in demanding truth from our leaders.
When I describe fascism in class, I note that fascism is an anti-intellectual, anti-rational, emotion driven way of thinking. It is relativistic – truth does not exist, all that exists is different perspectives, and those who power can determine truth. It might be a claim about crowd size, it might be a claim that Jews are a parasitic people. The fact that the new President is so shameless in lying about things that are so easy to check is in my opinion they most disturbing thing about the new administration.