The whole Trump phenomenon has been bizarre, but this particular incident strikes me as a genuine turning point in U.S. politics. I’m appalled by much of Trump’s rhetoric, but I’m not surprised that 20-30 percent of Republican voters support it. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am surprised by this, though. He insists he saw something truly dreadful on TV — “thousands” of American Muslims “dancing in the streets” — that never happened, and he isn’t suffering in the polls for it. Video footage broadcast on TV doesn’t just disappear — not in today’s day and age. It’s unadulterated demagoguery.
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy.” —Thomas Jefferson
In totalitarian states, there is no free and open news media to inform the citizenry. I’m not sure anyone ever imagined something like this, where the news media has laid bare the fact that what Trump says he saw with own eyes never happened, showing that he’s either lying or delusional, and a scarily large slice of the electorate still supports his campaign to become the ostensible leader of the free world.
It’s like the climate change debate writ small. In a democracy, good truthful journalism is difficult to suppress — but simply denying the truth, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, appears to be an effective political strategy.
Update: I am reminded that someone did predict this sort of situation. It really only could have been predicted through satire.
★ Monday, 30 November 2015