Truth Matters


I admit I have been on a bit of a harangue about truth. I have been picking on Donald Trump and that is too easy a target. It is like shooting fish in a barrel. But we must remember that he has millions of supporters. Perhaps 50 million Americans or more support him. Many think he will still be President of the United States after the next election. So Trump—no matter what any one says is important. He is important because so many people support him.

One of my friends told me he thinks Trump haters are lazy and ignorant. He said they find the most simplistic explanations that just don’t bear any resemblance to the Trump supporters he knows. He calls the Trump haters lazy and arrogant. I think he is right about them. Many of them are exactly that. No matter what Trump says or does they reject it. However exactly the same thing could be said about Trump supporters.

And he knows many. Well I know some Trump supporters too. Some of my American friends are Trump supporters. Some of my relatives are Trump supporters. Some of these are intelligent people. I respect them. But that does not get them off the hook.

The most recent revelation that Trump lied to the American people about the risk of the Covid-19 epidemic and endangered millions of lives is important. It is no secret that Trump has been a recurrent liar. Everyone knows that including his supporters. They discount the significance of those lies. They say they are an acceptable price to pay for all the good things Trump does such as appointing judges they like and cutting taxes to juice the economy. They have shrugged at the lies and overlook the shenanigans.

I want to remind my friends that lying has consequences. Sometimes it has very serious consequences. When voters don’t care about whether politicians tell the truth or not, that can cost lives. People die. In some cases many people die!

More than 190,000 Americans have died of Covid-19. That is more than 3 times the number of Americans that died during the Vietnam War and I was always appalled by the lying of the American political leaders that led Americans to support that war when they might not have done so had they known the truth.

I am not saying all Trump supporters belong to the “basket of deplorables.” Some of them are good people. In fact “there are good people on both sides” of the Trump debate. However, I submit Trump supporters are partly responsible for the unnecessary death of thousands of Americans who were misled about the dangers of Covid-19 by their president. I do call them misguided and I call them negligent.

That negligence has serious consequences. Allowing political leaders to get away with lies for the sake of getting judges you like or taxes cut is a very high price to pay. Such actions by Trump supporters has enabled and even encouraged the president to put Americans in danger. Thousands have died as a result. Millions have had their health compromised. These are serious harms.

This damage is not so remote that his actions can be excused. This is reasonably foreseeable harm as we lawyers say for which the person who caused the damage would be liable. It is Trump supporters more than Trump detractors who are lazy and arrogant. They are reckless with the lives of others.

As reporter Carl Bernstein said about Trump , “he has allowed the loss of life for his own narrow political purposes.” That is a pretty serious charge. Then Bernstein added, “and it is the most devastating cover-up in history.” And this is coming from the man who broke the Watergate story together with Bob Woodward. The two are back on the world stage again.

When truth dies the consequences can be serious. Lies have consequences.

2 thoughts on “Truth Matters

  1. i am not so sure that truth and lies are the real issue. in part because all of us lie with some frequency. in part because of how lying, perception, and psychic distress can congeal, erase boundaries, and confuse. in part because so much of information flow is propaganda and spectacle.

    is it possible that the issue is really power, how it is acquired, and what is done with it.

    just sayin’.

    1. Truth and power are not unrelated. It is one of the more profound things that power can do–i.e. that it can bend the truth. For example, on my post about Toni Morrison’s Bluest Eye, the most amazing thing is that white supremacy can push African-Americans toward self-loathing. Power can impose its “truth.” James Baldwin had a similar insight. The vulnerable end up accepting the world view imposed on them by those in power. In politics that can mean that the working class can end up voting against their own interests. Yes power is the real issue. It is always the issue.

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