On November 27 Trump tweeted that “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Within days the uncertain “millions” became 3 million as pushed by the loose affiliation of devotees and propagandists that make up the world of Trump true believers and trolls. Why 3 million? Because Clinton’s lead in the popular vote stands at 2.5 million. Better to plump that number to 3 for that secure cushion. If her lead goes beyond 3, be assured that more illegal votes will be found somewhere.
All of this is a complete fabrication, another big lie, one more piece in the torrent of disinformation that is already becoming the pre-eminent feature of his nascent administration. Spend 3 minutes doing rudimentary research and the foul stench of the lie bleaches away.
Who knows what Trump actually believes? To call his tweet a lie is to simplify what may actually be happening inside his calculations. Perhaps he cannot ever be seen on the down or losing side of anything, ever. Perhaps wounded pride may drive him or a need to always be seen to prevail. Who knows? We waste valuable time trying to unravel his inner life. Keep your eye on actions. Forget the psychology. Watch the events.
His actions reveal someone who believes in assertions, not facts — something like “if I do it, it is right, it is true.” The articulated principle would look like this:
To assert is to make true. To assert is to make a factual reality.
The level of hubris in such a system is staggering. It assumes a superhuman, even god-like governance of events, and a control of perception such that no matter what he does that comes into conflict with what actually occurs, his version will be true. It assumes an inability to do anything wrong, a baked in purity of deed.
He did not devise this delusion. Others in his Party* have been there before him. Witness Karl Rove, President G.W.Bush’s campaign chair: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” What followed was Iraq and the economic collapse of 2008. Those facts certainly asserted the reality of the real as opposed to the hallucination of achieving a Master of the Universe capability. And now comes Trump with the full power of all of the government behind him facing an erratic and bleeding opposition party.
Orwell teaches us that language can be employed by the powerful as a weapon, a distraction, a substitute for what is genuine, a mask, a tool of corruption. So used it can allege that what is rotten is fresh, that the offensive is good, that dishonesty is honorable, that ignorance shouted out is wisdom.
We are about to enter a laboratory that will test what decisions are permissible within a democracy so that it will still be democratic. I have no idea how bad all this will get before some enormous wave of public disgust spurred on by actual events calls a stop. Joy Harjo, in her poem “By The Way” writes that “We’re in the apocalyptic age of addiction and forgetting.”** It may be a while.
*Not that Democrats do not have their own set of fallacies, although I know of none that approach this level of delirium.
**The New Yorker, December 5, 2016