Right now, if someone in our federal government told me the sky is blue, I’d walk outside expecting it to be orange with green polka dots.
The truth isn’t the truth anymore, it’s whatever we’re told truth is. Are you okay with that?
It’s not even so much that we’re being lied to, that’s not new. The strange thing is that our leaders now seem to believe their own fantasies even as they make them up. George Orwell in his novel “1984” termed that “doublethink,” as I recall.
Even worse, people don’t really seem to care if they are being lied to. If their guy or their party or the media slanted toward them is doing the lying - even if people darn well know it - they buy into this “alternative truth” so deep that in their minds, it actually becomes reality.
And that’s more troubling than any politician’s gimmicks.
Presidents, members of Congress, even TV news producers, will come and go. One party grabs power, abuses it, then the other takes a turn. In theory if any of them are dishonest enough, they’ll hang themselves. You can wait that out.
But the fact that a considerable portion of the public in our county can no longer perceive reality when it’s in front of their faces, or no longer care to bother, that’s not temporary. And it should scare us.
At the moment, Democrats led by Al Franken are crying for an investigation into whether Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia to hack the election, and suggest publicly that Putin has “something on him” they are using to control his presidency. Smacks of witch hunt. How exactly Trump would facilitate changing the outcome of national voting is beyond me.
Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters are hammering away with wild, sudden accusations about former president Obama wiretapping Trump Tower, and screaming for an investigation. Do “wires” even exist any more? Obama was booking tee times by that point, why would he pull a Tricky Dick? And why would anyone need to tap Trump when he trumpets his every move himself on Twitter?
If you believe all you’re told, I’ve got an ex-president muslim from Kenya for you. Or was it a Mayan from Venezuela? I forget.
As informed citizens, we should probably see all this for what it is. A rather transparent attempt to distract us from reality. That is, distract us from asking about why there’s still no fix for Social Security or health care coming out of Congress, no real workable immigration reform, no direction on environmental preservation, no strategy for diplomacy and world peace beyond more military spending, on and on.
A broken, hopelessly partisan government should concern us, though that is nothing new.
The fact that we’re sitting on our hands during an all-out assault on free press, on which our democracy depends - yeah, that should bother us.
But truth itself, truth seems like such a simple, basic thing to be losing our grip on.
Neither side has a monopoly on big lies.
Hillary Clinton lied about her email scandal. There were lies on Obamacare. Of late, some Democrat leaders have been caught in lies about Russian contacts, just as our attorney general under Trump is.
And our new president is elevating lying to an art form - from claiming that Obama is the founder of ISIS to asserting he had actually won the popular vote, if not for some mysterious illegal conspiracy involving three million or so people.
If there are no consequences, there’s apparently no need for truth. We seem quite willing to accept behavior from political leaders that we wouldn’t tolerate from our own young children - tantrums and deliberate dishonesty included.
CNN political commentator Scottie Hughes said, “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.”
She went on to say that Trump’s tweets among a large population, are truth - even when they aren’t.
No such thing as facts? Since when? Truth is truth, whether or not it is what you or I would like wish it to be. We know this, and yet we let our political parties convince us otherwise.
To hear a supposed news person say that facts are some kind of abstract, that truth is whatever some politician tells you it is, makes me wonder what has happened to journalism. The fact is, some news organizations are spewing #fakenews, as the president likes to call it. The trick is reading and watching objectively, and considering your sources.
Integrity in news reporting is rarer than it used to be, but it isn’t extinct.
Today, otherwise rational, intelligent people are denying the existence of objective facts they clearly can see for themselves. Sorry if we don’t like the truth, but that doesn’t change it.
Example: you can Google the president’s approval rating and find half the opinion machine telling you it’s soaring and half telling you its tanking - neither is true (it’s pretty much level of late, says the Gallup data.)
If you choose to believe what a political party tells you to believe, that’s your choice. If you are okay with media being silenced if it doesn’t blindly praise a leader, you have that right. This all certainly worked for the Third Reich.
Make no mistake, the hypothesis here is that if people are told enough times that something is true, they’ll believe it is. Why do you think Trump tweeted his accusation about Obama wiretapping four times on the same day, Saturday?
Before you follow anyone blindly, consider author Orwell’s literary warning about totalitarianism, via “1984.”
In it, the character Winston Smith, an innocent in a world gone wrong, believes in democracy, peace, freedom and decency. At first he rebels against the wrongs he sees, writing them in a journal despite the watchful eye of Big Brother. But eventually, he loses his ability to perceive, his struggle is crushed, and those ideals with him.
Regardless of your politics, I would venture to say that when we can no longer tell truth from lies, or worse, stop caring which is which, a portion of our humanity is lost as well.
Question it. All of it.