TRUMP/GOP LIES VS. THE FACTS
By Mary Coen
Trump tells lies. All kinds of lies. The public knows this and even his supporters acknowledge this. But we all are in danger of becoming immune to the effects of the constant barrage of lies; so many are meaningless that we get fatigued trying to weed out the truly significant ones. And there are seriously significant lies–ones that can affect our national security, that can affect the well-being of our citizens, and can make a big difference in our presidential election campaign.
So how do we decide which deserve ignoring and which we should correct whenever we can? For sheer self-preservation I looked up dictionary definitions and was surprised to find that there are distinctly different types of lies–some like exaggeration and denial and omission that of course we all recognize, but some less obvious like minimalization which is consciously withholding the full truth, and restructuring, which is changing the context surrounding an event.
So about exaggeration: we can simply roll our eyes about such blatant assertions as having the largest attendance for an inauguration, but his exaggerations about more serious issues like the economy or immigration not only put bad information out there, but also make it impossible to have legitimate conversations about solutions to problems.
Lies of denial are usually believed or disbelieved on the basis of the amount of trust one places in the people involved and Trump has shown that he can persist in a denial until he’s caught. Then without acknowledgement or apology, he simply changes his tune. While it’s true that Bill Clinton denied (to Congress) his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, for which he was impeached, he ultimately acknowledged and apologized publicly. Lies of denial are bellwethers–the sheer number of Donald Trump denials, from not knowing Stormy Daniels to never having met Lev Parnas, should lead to the understanding that lying is a habit for Trump. Not at all meaningless but a way of life.
Lies of omission are often missed. They are only exposed from some other source–such as the fill-in-the-blanks transcript of a famous “perfect” phone call. Or finding out that Trump’s touted bill for giving veterans “choice” in medical care was actually just a consolidation of a program created in 2014 under Obama. Of course, these types of untruths could also be considered “restructuring” or taking out of context. Perhaps the most egregious use of this type of lie comes with the constant claim of our current economy as the “best ever”, as if a strong stock market indicates that all segments of the country should be thriving. This always smacks as a bit of the blame-the-victim game: if you are having trouble with the costs of housing, child care, education or medical bills (which continue to go up), it must be your fault since the stock market is doing just fine, thank you.
And according to Trump, manufacturing is booming, coal mining is making money, and new companies are popping up all over. But….manufacturing jobs have decreased, as have coal mining jobs–fewer workers, more machinery–and the great majority of new companies have an average of under ten employees. The great Republican economic adage of a ” rising tide lifts all boats” only works for those who have boats. Everyone else gets swamped.
It came as a surprise to me that minimalizing something can be considered a type of lie. It purposely degrades important aspects, as in Trump’s referral to the troops’ concussions inflicted by the retaliations for the assassination of General Soleimani as merely “headaches”, and not a true medical issue.
The ongoing proliferation of lies, the constant barrage and sheer numbers of Trump’s outpouring, and the collusion of administration officials and even much of the leadership of the Republican party has an effect: confusion. It is easier to get your news from one source than to try to figure out who is lying. And Republicans increasingly get their news from a single source (Fox) making it difficult to counter all the lies. Face to face contact, if done non-confrontationally, may be the only other perspective that actually gets heard. But how to pick out what lies to confront when there are so many? The biggest issues for most people are health care, personal economics e.g. childcare, housing, and safety fears, including the drug epidemic. Finding just a few sentences to reframe what the Republicans falsely claim on each issue might be the only way to engage. For example, noting that the Democratic controlled House of Representatives has passed over 400 bills that were sent to the senate in the last year and a half, and not even discussed there, is a response to many digs about do-nothing Democrats who only focus on witch hunts. Likewise noting that the president has taken money for his wall from the budget for the upgrade of military bases, that he has removed troops from some places while increasing troops in others, that he has demeaned some servicemen and interfered with military justice, is a reminder that he doesn’t really honor the military.
It is easy to look up some easy answers to the administration’s lies online, or at your local library. There are fact-check sites available that keep up to date. It’s easy to get overwhelmed; fortunately, it’s also easy to get the truth.