I know. There are a lot of claims that Trump “lies all the time”. But consider for a moment, what if Trump is not lying? What if he actually believes the things he says? More specifically, if you read all there is in this post, could you be forgiven for believing in many ways Trump did deserve to win in 2020?
There a clearly times when fact checkers do not agree with what Trump has said. The question is, does that happen because because Trump is lying, or because Trump actually believes these things that do not pass fact checks?
Hidden behind the answer to how often, if at all, Trump is lying, is the answer to the question: is Trump malevolent, or foolish? I suggest that answer does matter. A lot.
- The Debate:
- Truth and Politics.
- Are Trump Supporters Lying?
- Trump team lying, or seeing what they want to see?
- Suspension of Disbelief
- Fast evolving realities?
- Adulation, The Right, and The Truth
- The Church
- The Military:
- The Collapse of Truth?
- The Implications:
- How Did Trump Get to be President?
- What Trump Believes
- What Followers Believe
- What Even Non-Followers Believe
- The Economy
- The Future?
- How much further can western democracies sink?
- Just Like Covid-19, it is not yet over
- Conclusion: Maybe Biden Was Just Lucky?
- When an authority figures believes, people may follow.
Politics: Truths vs Facts
Politicians are often accused of lying when it is very difficult to be certain whether they were lying, or just wrong. Being right or wrong does not reveal whether someone was lying or not. Consider if you are asked ‘who will win the football on Saturday?’ You could declare who you believe will, but later be proven wrong. Alternatively, you could for some reason wish to deceive, and answer the opposite of what you believe, yet that answer you believed at the time to be wrong could possibly turn out to be correct.
Clearly wrong or right are very different from lying or not. With the football, it will because clear whether what you said before the match turned out to be wrong or right, but it may never be clear whether you intended to deceive or not. There is more on this topic here.
Are Trump Supporters Lying?
Even flat earthers. Are they lying, or simply believe the Earth is flat. If even a small percentage of them actually believe the Earth is flat despite all the evidence, then clearly humans are capable of believing things against all evidence.
I suggest there are a significant number of Trump supporters who repeat stories that turn out to be false, yet those supporters were not lying when they repeated the story later found to be false.
Consider for example voter fraud. I did a search for ‘voter fraud examples’ and there were pages, and pages repeating claims of voter fraud. The claims were often from sources who had to remain anonymous, and extremely hard to verify, but if people can believe the earth is flat, they could certainly believe pages and pages about voter fraud.
Now search for ‘voter fraud debunked’. This time in place of ‘a democrat who did not want to be named’, you get quotes from President Bush
“The American people can have confidence this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear,” he said.George W Bush
“That’s why to me it was so important to say early on to the president: If your base is for not conceding [because] there was voter fraud, then Chris Christie says it’s Trump’s “right to pursue legal action, but show us the evidence.
We heard nothing today about any evidence.” “This kind of thing, all it does is inflame without informing, and we cannot permit inflammation without information.” http://abcn.ws/electionupdatesChris Christie (on camera)
It goes on, with other republicans and Trump appointees also confirming there is no evidence of widespread fraud that would effect the result.
There also claims from those arguing against fraud that all the evidence is fabricated or manipulated. This is because it ‘evidence’ put forward over and over turns out to not really be evidence. But this does not mean that those looking hard for evidence, did not believe they had evidence. Just as there is no real evidence for a flat earth, even though ‘flat earthers’ believe they have evidence.
Are supporters of ‘voter fraud’ lying, or seeing voter fraud where further scrutiny would reveal there is none? Do they become enraged by what only a biased view would interpret as fraud, and tweet and republish?
Many stories may be easily debunked, but that does not mean the original source of the story was not fooled into believing something was wrong.
Perhaps there are Trump supporters who are lying, but the there are those with real conviction, and they will believe they have found evidence where in reality there is none. But, this leaves them convinced, and far more passionate than someone lying.
Trump team lying, or seeing what they want to see?
It could also be that the Trump team knows that stories they repeat are false. Or it could be they are seeing what they believe they will see. We can be predisposed to seeing things is placed in front of us.
OK, so many of the stories that are re-tweeted could be checked or debunked before they are repeated, but perhaps those seeing what they imagine is there, and then are too incensed to wait.
Suspension of Disbelief.
Most of us are aware of the concept of suspension of disbelief. To what extent does the narrative of a government qualify? Perhaps it depends on to what degree the audience wants to feel part of the story?
Trump himself, is an active participant, not just an audience. Keep researching suspension of disbelief with regard to actors, and method acting, and it becomes clear that participants can also suspend disbelief. Trump may have been doing what psychology today calls ‘real acting‘ for so long he is no longer even aware. It may be that he tells his own story, and then slips into that story as his reality.
Fast Evolving realities.
There are times when Trump contradicts himself. How could Trump tell Bob Woodward Covid-19 is so serious, yet tell the American people ‘it will go away’, or it is like the flu, unless one of those stories is a lie?
What if Trump did believe it would ‘just go away’? At least initially when the first remarks were recorded back in Feb 7th. There is a log of remarks made by Trump during the first few months here.
Trump did initially say the virus was very dangerous. It is just that he also said ‘we are completely on top of it’ and ‘it will magically go away when it gets warmer’.
Trump did not make such conflicting statements at the same time. The ‘worse than the flu’ was not at the same time as ‘it is like the flu’. To be fair something can be like another thing, and worse than that other thing. It is also very likely the Trump changes his position depending on the information in front of him at the time. In fact, it becomes necessary for Trump to change his opinion as opinions become outdated. His ‘it will magically go away when it gets warmer’ did not happen. Trump started to make excuses, and the worse things became, the more delusional his claims.
The question is, was Trump increasingly dishonest, or increasingly delusional?
Trump: Lies vs Delusion?
There are so many times Trump said things that have been called lies. There have also been times his words have wrongly been called delusions or lies. … but even if the times Trump is called for things he should not be called for, there still many, many things that, at the very least go against the vast majority of informed people believe.
Now consider religion. There is no single religion followed by the majority of people globally. This means, with every religion, most of humanity sees many specific teachings of that religion as fiction, yet in each case there is a large group of people who treat those same teachings a fact. When these people make what can be very hard to imagine claims as to what are facts, it is tolerated as acceptable for ‘faith’. In other words, people accept on faith very different views than that held by ‘non-believers’. Does Trump simply take a ‘faith’ approach to a wider range of views than is normal? Note, that we do not call those who believe in things we do not ‘liars’, we just question their beliefs.
Adulation, The Right, and Truth
Trump as an Authority Figure.
Reward for ‘merit’ is a key principle of ‘the right’. That greater an individuals merit, the more successful they will be. There is also faith the the economic system delivers for those of merit. It logically follows, the more successful someone is, the more their merit.
If you are a billionaire, and get to be President, than within this belief system, you must be of great merit! This is in the image of the ‘lords and nobles’ of the second estate that the right seeks to preserve.
In fact the original ‘right’ was all about people being ‘in their station’ and following the guidance of those in power.
This means, for those who have the mindset of ‘the right’, the words of Trump, who is both billionaire and president most be taken on faith. Logic does not enter into it.
The Church: Belief over evidence.
The church is historically the ‘first estate’. The belief in the church is another key characteristic of those of ‘the right’. The whole premise is to accept what you are told, and historically, the church has been know to tell to people to believe things, even despite a lack of evidence. There is a pattern of ‘believe what your are told’ within the culture of ‘the right’.
Another estate, another source of order, and another case of ‘do not question what you are told’.
Historically, government that the original ‘right’ sought to preserve is all about government by the estates of authority that should not be questioned.
The Collapse of Truth?
All of the original authorities of the estates were about people of power declaring what is true, and themselves seeming to believe there own truths.
How Did Trump Get to be President? Votes!
Trump won a valid election in 2016. The significance of that cannot understated. People who dislike Trump argue he did not win the popular vote, or that Russia interfered with the election, but these are all moot points. Both political parties spent hundreds of millions of dollars to ‘interfere with the election’ in ways that often are borderline legal, and the popular vote is not how the election is decided, and it has been that way for hundreds of years. No matter how you look at it, a lot of people voted for Trump!
Then in 2020, Trump actually again came remarkably close. It seems likely that in the absence of Covid-19, Trump would have again won. If you do not like Trump, think about that.
The most hated leaders in history ‘lied’ to people, but were believed, partly because it seems likely they had the conviction of believing their own ‘lies’.
No matter you think about Trump, a lot of people vote for him, and believe him.
What Trump Believes
Just for a moment imagine that Trump does believe what he says. This means:
- Trump did think Covid-19 was like a worse version of ‘the flu’, but that it would magically go away
- Trump does not believe Russian interference had anything to do with him winning the 2016 election
- When Trump hears even the slightest hint of suggestion of corruption or wrongdoing by his political opponents, even when the source is not credible, he believes and feels it the American people need to see this ‘truth’ revealed
- Trump believes he is the rightful winner of the 2020 election.
- Critics who declare Trump should stop the baseless claims, miss the point that Trump may himself believe those baseless claims
Too much? Think of what we can believe while in the cinema, and then imagine someone who does not stop believing when they leave. I guess many ‘fans’ do that, but take it to another level.
What Followers Believe
The culture of the right is to believe things. Usually what those in authority say, but then how does anyone other than a Mormon explain the story of Joseph Smith, and those that came to follow him?
The overwhelming majority of Trump voters, and even a percentage of democrat voters, believe democrats stole the 2020 election.
Politico conducted its 2020 Voter Priorities Survey and results show that a vast majority of Trump voters believe the election results are not valid and that illegal voting and fraud took place during the election. Twenty-one percent of Trump voters believe the results are valid and 79 percent believe the election was stolen.Poll: 79% of Trump Voters Believe ‘Election Was Stolen Through Illegal Voting and Fraud’
What Non-Followers Believe.
There are even polls that suggest as many as 30% of democrats feel the elections was ‘stolen’:
The partisan breakdown is not exactly what I expected with 75 percent of Republicans — 75 percent! — saying it is very (61 percent) or somewhat (14 percent) likely the election was stolen.
Get this… 30 percent of Democrats — Democrats! — say it is very (20 percent) or somewhat (10 percent) likely the election was stolen from Trump.
Of course 69 percent of Democrats say it is not at all (61 percent) or not very (8 percent) likely the election was stolen from Trump. Still, that 30 percent of Democrats who say it was stolen is pretty remarkable.Rasmussen poll: 20-30% of Democrats believe the election was stolen from Trump
Just to confirm this is not all Trump biased media or anything:
However, only 29 percent of Republicans believed that Biden had “rightfully won,” compared to 52 percent of Republicans who said the same about Trump.The Hill
The poll also reported that 55 percent of adults believed the 2020 election was “legitimate and accurate,” a 7 percentage point decrease from a similar poll released following the 2016 election.The Hill
So ‘The Hill’ quotes polls that show only 45% percent of adult Americans do not feel the 2020 election was ‘fair and accurate’, while the numbers quotes by Brietbart suggest more than 50% thought the election ‘rigged’.
But either way, it is really close to half of all Americans have little confidence in the election being fair!
Now consider how many of the 55% percent of adult Americans who think Biden won a “legitimate and accurate” election, believe Trump would have won if not for Covid-19??
At the extreme, Covid-19, could even be said to be a foreign interference in the election, but even the most reasonable would say Covid-19 presented very unusual circumstances.
Overall, at least in the absence of Covid-19, it is widely believed Trump would again be rightful president.
Under Trump prior to Covid-19, by most metrics, the economy was doing well. In reality, many of the trends from the Obama period had just continued.
Trump managed to take credit for a relatively healthy economy, and managed to build the belief that interventions by Trump must have a had a very positive impact. Even people who dislike Trump came to believe that Trump managed the economy well. However, there is a track record of perception of management of the economy not matching reality.
I would suggest this better demonstrates the power of repeating the same message over and over, rather than anything Trump did to help the economy.
In fact, the strength of belief that Trump knew how to drive the economy, could have been the key to his re-election.
Unbeholden to the same corporate and establishment interests as other politicians, he confronted the globalist status quo, aggressively altering America’s trade posture. Gone was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which promised to leave American manufacturing more exposed than ever to cheaper, overseas labor markets. Gone was NAFTA, replaced by Trump’s USMCA — a deal that provides, among other things, added protection for American auto manufacturing. Gone, too, was the Paris Climate Agreement, which effectively forced the United States to endure industrial cuts that its competitors, especially China, could avoid. At the same time, to encourage investment and growth, Trump cut taxes and red tape. He opened America for business.New York Post
They missed, mentioning the tax cuts, but what is not clear is how any of these policies helped the economy.
Now, though, we are entering the season of more careful economic analyses. The most important of these will be the official verdict rendered by the U.S. International Trade Commission, due by April 19. This past week, though, we got a previewin a careful study from several International Monetary Fund economists.
Drumroll, please. Study says…
Real GDP growth in the United States with the USMCA would be 0.00 percent higher than without the USMCA. If one assumes that USMCA adoption is accompanied by removal of steel and aluminum tariffs and the retaliation imposed by Canada and Mexico, then that number is 0.00 percent (Table 5).Forbes on official US analysis that USMCA produces identical financial outcomes to NAFTA
It’s obvious why Trump gets decent ratings on the economy — before the coronavirus outbreak in March, he had presided over the late stages of the longest economic expansion in postwar U.S. history. But the key phrase here is “presided over,” because Trump didn’t really do much more than that. If anything, those economic policies that he did manage to enact probably did more harm than good.Trump Did Nothing to Help the Economic Boom
There are also articles praising trump, but I have yet to read an article with logic as to why and how things Trump did actually helped.
Clearly the stage is set proving that some right wing politician, if not Trump himself, simply getting people to vote for them on the basis of belief can get America to vote for them. Part of the plot is to identify a common enemy. People have compared Trump to Hitler, and while Trump is not Hitler, or war monger of any type, there are comparisons of bringing people along on a ‘restore the empire’ and other themes.
While as I said, Trump is no Hitler, now the tactics are proven, there must be concern that someone more Hitler like could succeed in winning an election in the USA sometime soon.
How much further can western democracies go?
The US is not just ‘a’ western democracy. It is ‘the’ western democracy. But the US is not alone in having Trump like figures who appeal to ‘belief’ over science politics. Brazil has also demonstrated the reach beyond western democracies. So far Trump may be the most extreme example, but he is an example that others, in the US or elsewhere may follow, and then take further.
Just Like Covid-19, it is not yet over
Trump has not yet departed. Prior to the election, all the signs were there that Trump knew he would lead on election night, only to see his lead evaporate as postal votes were counted. There was advance notice that Trump would declare the postal votes as fraudulent. It seemed all part of plan to steal the election, but it seems in the end Trump had no plan, he really convinced himself that the votes that would go against him would all really be fraudulent.
It seems impossible that anything can change the outcome for 2020, but that does not mean Trump will go away. There is one last play:
President Donald Trump’s arsenal for overturning the election will soon be down to one final, desperate maneuver: pressing his Republican allies on Capitol Hill to step in and derail Joe Biden’s presidency.How Trump’s Hill allies could take one last shot to overturn the election
Even assuming that does not play out, even then, Trump is not necessarily gone forever.
Republicans know Donald Trump would doom them in 2024. But who will tell the President?The Australian
Despite Trump taking ‘fake news’ to new levels in denial of the election results, many republicans do not dare to call him out, because the fake news is resonating with ‘the base’. The election result is far from a return to a political force determined to fact check what they tell voters to believe.
Conclusion: Was Biden Just Lucky?
Most Americans believe Trump would be have won if there had been a fair election without Covid-19. Almost have believe the election was not fair, and 25% believe Trump actually did win.
It doesn’t make Trump the winner, but it does show his strategy would have delivered a win.
Under more normal circumstances, despite, or maybe because of, all the crazy things Trumps says, the potential of a style of politics where people are simply told what to believe is so strong that without Covid-19, that is most likely how the election would have been decided.
If Trump is telling the truth, then what is proven, is that a passionate ‘believer’ can bring the US with them.
But if Trump is deliberately manipulating, perhaps what he has proven may be more sinister, but seems unlikely. One the weight of evidence, Trump believes what he says, and there has been a narrow escape. This time.