Adolf Hitler and his propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, are said to have developed the axiom that a lie, repeated often enough, will be taken for the truth.
In the recent U.S. presidential election, we have seen how effective this axiom has been, even among ostensibly intelligent people.
The most vicious practitioner of this Nazi principle has been outgoing President Donald Trump. Even before Trump entered politics, he already publicly espoused “distorting the truth” as an effective means of achieving his ends. In his book, “The Art of the Deal,” Trump stated:
“I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.”
Trump has, in fact, used more than “truthful hyperbole” in his personal, business and political life. As president, he has liberally told outright lies and has also made falsehood SOP among White House staff and members of his cabinet.
As a habitual liar, Trump is arguably unmatched by even Hitler and Goebbels themselves.
He is said to have told over 20,000 lies and exaggerations during his presidency (literally tracked and recorded by media). Most tragic of all, he lied about the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus, causing the country and health authorities to let down their guard and not adequately prepare for its deadly consequences.
Throughout the 2020 election campaign, Trump spread lies and black propaganda in a scorched- earth effort to win a second term. He branded Biden a socialist, an enemy of the police, a coddler of illegal immigrants and of terrorists, and a senile old man, unfit for the highest office in the land.
He also accused the Democrats and the Biden-Harris tandem of plotting to steal the election. None of these allegations was supported with credible evidence.
Ever the consummate trickster, Trump apparently prepared for all eventualities in connection with his reelection campaign — even the possibility of defeat. Early on, Trump made the preposterous assertion that the only way he could lose was if the Democrats cheated. He was obviously conditioning the country to believe allegations of electoral fraud.
Trump singled out the use of mail-in ballots as the means for perpetrating the fraud. Voting by mail had been used in past elections without any problem. Even Trump himself and First Lady Melania Trump had reportedly decided to vote by mail. The recourse to widespread deployment of mail-in ballots was due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump claimed that voting by mail was open to votes cast by non-citizens, “multiple voting” by those who would receive more than one ballot, and even voting by the dead.
“Voting from the grave” is a scam that voters in the Philippines are familiar with. In 1949 President Elpidio Quirino (who had assumed the presidency upon the death of President Manuel Roxas) was accused of winning against Jose P. Laurel with votes “cast” in Lanao by dead people, as well as trees and flowers.
Trump then set out to implement the Hitler-Goebbels technique of deluding America, particularly his voter base, by spreading the lie in media interviews and speeches and repeating it often enough until it was taken for the truth. The lie gained more traction, with the active support of pro-Trump media like Fox News.
Ironically, Trump’s campaign of disinformation served to motivate Biden’s supporters to register to vote in record numbers, resulting in the biggest turn-out of voters in U.S. election history. Trump’s efforts may also have spurred his voter base to troop to the polls in record numbers, instead of voting by mail.
Unluckily for Trump, Biden garnered over 5 million more votes, and, more importantly, Biden won in battleground states, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan and even traditionally Republican bailiwicks, Arizona and Georgia.
Not surprisingly, Trump has claimed that he was cheated. What is also not surprising is that most of Trump’s voters believe him. Up to 70% of Republicans are convinced that Trump actually won. Even among Democrats and Independents, 5% and 31%, respectively, agree.
A week after the election, Trump supporters massed by the thousands in Washington DC to protest the “cheating.” These supporters have vowed to continue their protests.
During the waning weeks of his incumbency, Trump and his aides have filed several lawsuits in a desperate effort to block the assumption of the presidency by Joe Biden.
However, they have failed to present credible evidence and all but two of their court filings have been dismissed by the courts.
Several of Trump’s lawyers have withdrawn their complaints, and have also given up representing Trump. Apparently, for this reason, Trump has had to ask his personal attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, to lead the team pursuing the complaints.
Giuliani has resorted to weaving fantastic conspiracy theories about cheating by Democrats, among them a plot allegedly hatched in Venezuela.
Giuliani has kept promising to produce tons of evidence but in all of his court appearances, he has failed to produce anything. In fact, in a recent appearance before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Giuliani stated that he was “not alleging fraud” but was protesting the fact that Trump’s poll watchers were kept at a distance. The complaint was found without merit.
In one instance, Giuliani reportedly revealed that losing in the state courts is not as important as setting the stage for elevating the complaints to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Apparently, Trump is hoping that his appointees in the High Court will rule in his favor.
Legal experts do not believe this will happen. However, Trump is desperate enough to try anything.
Meanwhile, state election officials, including Republicans, have attested that the election was fair, While there were fears of possible electoral tampering by Russian operatives, Christopher Krebs, the Trump-appointed Director for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security (CISA) reported that the election was the most secure in recent history.
For telling the truth, Krebs was fired by Trump.
The U.S. now faces the grim reality of being a divided country, mainly because of a master liar. It is feared that millions of Trump supporters will continue to believe that their candidate should have won a second term and will continue to make things difficult for the Biden-Harris administration.
Actually, the shoe may be on the other foot.
Trump has not forgotten that in the four years of his presidency, the Democrats never let up on questioning his legitimacy. Now he plans to have his revenge.
The question is: how can President Biden and Vice-President Harries counter the lies that will be told about them – over and over and over again until these are taken for the truth?
By delivering on their campaign promises.
Most of all, by constantly and consistently telling the truth. Over and over again. Until they are believed.
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.