The Persistence of “The Big Lie”

Donald Trump has not only reiterated – and reiterated – the big lie about the 2020 election being stolen, but has now declared that there was such massive fraud that any laws, including the Constitution, that keep him from being elected should be terminated. While a bare handful of elected Republicans have said that terminating the Constitution was uncalled for, so far no Republican in a leadership position has publicly disagreed with Trump or rebuked him on his rejection of the Constitution.

Just how has the United States gotten to a point where patent falsehoods are held as truths by roughly a third of the country, and nearly half the country votes for officials who endorse those falsehoods?

Living where I do, immersed in “deep red” southwestern Utah, I can understand why a third of the population believes those falsehoods. The culture here is unabashedly patriarchal, with the greatest economic disparity between the earnings of men and women of any state in the union. When we moved here, a senior professor told my wife that if she didn’t follow the male party line dealing with female professors, she’d never get tenure, and it really didn’t matter because she had a husband to take care of her. My wife fought back and got him removed from the committee [but not from the university], and she built an opera program from nothing and got tenure but was paid less than male professors in the department for years. Over those years, the more overt aspects of patriarchal domination have softened, and the university now has its first female president, possibly because her two previous male predecessors (forced on the school by the male dominated state legislature) were so totally incompetent that even the male-dominated faculty and administration backed her, quite possibly out of fear that another patriarchal clone would destroy the university.

There is no effective Democratic party, and the only competition Republican candidates face is in the Republican primary so that they generally run unopposed in the general election, except occasionally by minority party candidates. Guns are sacred, and environmentalists are generally either despised or considered misguided souls. The Bureau of Land Management belongs to the devil because it wants to destroy ranchers by restricting the number of cattle they can graze on federal lands.

In this culture, it’s effectively social and often economic suicide to suggest loudly anything to the contrary of the local mindset, and that’s one reason why almost no faculty with liberal or moderate views remain long at the university.

The result is that there’s really no way to effectively point out misconceptions and falsehoods, and everyone believes that everyone everywhere, except for a minority of liberals on the coasts, thinks the way they do – and I’m just a fantasy and SF author who’s never lived in the real world, despite the fact that I’ve lived and worked in ten different states and served as a naval officer and Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. But then, anything not in Utah isn’t the real world… and I’ve seen that same attitude in other “red” states.

This self-isolation isn’t limited to the far right, unhappily, because it also occurs on the left, but it’s more dangerous on the right because the far-right is losing economic position, is generally less well-educated, is getting angrier and angrier, and has far more guns and large trucks.

5 thoughts on “The Persistence of “The Big Lie””

  1. R. Hamilton says:

    As is often the case when Trump says something off the cuff, he goes too far, but oddly enough in this case, NOT without historical context.

    Jefferson seemed to think that future revolutions even in the US would likely be necessary (although later perspective is that few revolutions turn out so well). Spengler (historian with a view of cultures as organism analogs with predictable life-cycles) thought that no society that appeared to continue for more than a very few centuries was really at all like its original version, regardless of ritually promulgated illusions.

    Funny how the left wants the Constitution to mean whatever they wish so long as that goes where they want to go, but will use a stupid remark made by someone well known for stupid remarks to pretend they’re its staunchest defenders.

    Consider that in a university in the majority of other states, the problems you saw would likely be the opposite, with the left marginalizing anything not according to their narrative…and maybe you’ll understand why many not of the left think we CANNOT “all just get along” with them since their idea of getting along is getting everything their way.

    1. Postagoras says:

      Wow, just wow.
      Dang, as a despicable leftist, I really need to practice my evil laugh, and talk to a contractor about building an underground lair under my house. After reading your response, I feel like I’m not measuring up!

  2. Conrad says:

    How about living in a state where thefts under $20,000 are misdemeanors so in particular any car that has say a Blue Book of under 20k is fair game since even if caught the perp(s) get a pat on the wrist and they can do it again without pretty much no consequences; or living in a (different) state where it’s ok to walk toward someone on the street and hit person violently with minimal consequence; maybe if you actually kill the person, you are arrested but then you still can walk out with minimal bail and do it again, but if you just injure the person and you are arrested, you are let go with no bail anyway
    And these are places where I haver been living now or earlier and still have family and visit; of course, if you can afford a gated community, the risk of car theft is much lower in the first case, while if you afford to move by Uber rather than subway/bus in the second, the risk of being assaulted is again much less and we are lucky this way, but most people aren’t…

    1. Chris says:

      I’m curious, which state has the $20k threshold for misdemeanor vs. felony?

      I know in California Prop 47 reduced theft of values at or below $950 to a misdemeanor, which is substantially below the $20k limit you mentioned, but maybe another state went further? Also, they can be charged with a felony even if the amount is less than $950 if they have previously been convicted of theft and served jail time (which unfortunately requires the police to arrest someone and put them thru the courts with the prospect of minimal time, and they generally don’t want to waste their time for that, even though it sets up future tougher enforcement).

      I’m also curious which state allows hitting someone with minimal consequence.

  3. Grey says:

    I think that ‘both-sidesing’ is becoming a rhetorical relic. Some Democratic pols and left wing voters have unworkable policy prescriptions that won’t pencil out, for sure. But they are looking at problems that are real. A party that proposes *fantasy solutions* to its base is not really comparable to a party that must pander to a base that lives in a *fantasy world*.

    Hopefully, with the Walker loss in Georgia, called just an hour or so ago, the humiliation of Trump’s senate and governor picks pushes the party away from the fringe.

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