The NY Times has come out with an analysis of Trump’s early days in the White House that “verifies” a hundred or so lies he’s told as president. I’m glad they did it and that they plan to continue to uncover Trump’s lies. I believe it will be useful over time, but at the moment I don’t care much.
I’m interested in what could make Trump supporters jump ship and a log of Trump lies isn’t likely to do it. Yes, polls do show that the percent of Americans who think Trump is not honest has jumped from 53% to 60% since the election and maybe the revelations of fact checkers helped with that. But my sense is many of his backers don’t believe exactly what he says anyway.
They just think it works because it has so far. Trump has maintained the image of a winner. Yes, he’s a vulgar bully, but he’s their vulgar bully, their battering ram against the powers that be. And don’t bother to point out that rather than draining the swamp he’s added alligators of his own. Their minds are made up and you are not going to confuse them with facts.
At this point you either believe most of what Trump says is B. S. or you believe his B. S. about fake news and all the rest, OR you think of his B. S. as a host of cunning maneuvers to win yet again, and since he’s gotten this far you’ll keep the faith until the end.
There is a nihilism in many Trump voters in that they think, what the hell, the same ‘ol same ‘ol isn’t going to work for me and at least with Trump we get to watch those in power fidget and get frustrated and angry like we are. As rocker Kid Rock observed months ago, “if the businessman doesn’t work out we’ll put someone else in.”
So, while I’m impressed by the “truth” project of the Times, it’s greatest value may come after Trump falls, falls in a way that chips off all but his most fanatic fans, falls because it is hard not to notice how badly he has mucked things up.
It has been commonly noted that we have reached an age of post truth, post fact politics. If facts don’t matter, fact checkers can’t matter much.
Hopefully, some day they will again.
P. S. – Thinking of the fact checkers I recall the “book people” in the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. In a world of complete conformity and apparently completely fireproof, the work of the firemen is to burn books not fight fires. Books because they have the propensity to prompt questions and in turn nonconformity. In reaction a group of rebels form in the woods and each memorizes a book to hopefully be passed on until some better future time. For us it will be a time when a degree of shared political reality can be reestablished.