Destroying Truth

I have a long history of political involvement. My father was an attorney and a local city councilman, as well as acting mayor for a time. My mother worked in local politics. Both were Republicans, although in the 1990s, my mother left the Republican party because of its growing misogyny.

My college degree was in political economy, and after my time as a Navy search and rescue pilot during the Vietnam War, I went into the business sector, first as an industrial economist and then as a real estate salesman. At the same time, I got involved in grassroots politics, as a Republican precinct committeeman [about the time I sold my first story]. That led to working as a paid research director on a successful Republican congressional campaign, after which the congressman hired me as his Washington, D.C., legislative assistant. When he became a senator, I was hired by his successor as his staff director. When the Reagan Administration took over, I became the head of Legislation and Congressional Affairs at the U.S. EPA. After three years there, I moved back into the private sector as a senior manager at a Washington, D.C., consulting firm for another seven years.

Stress and associated health issues prompted me to leave D.C. and the high pressure, but I continued political and regulatory consulting for another three years, until my writing finally provided enough income. But I continued to follow and comment on government and politics.

And after fifty years of political involvement, I can honestly say that I have never seen as great a disdain for the facts as is now evidenced by almost the entire Republican Party. While U.S. political parties have never been known for their strict adherence to the facts, in the last century, with the blatant exception of the McCarthy years and until the last ten years, they tended to limit their excesses to selective omission, modest misrepresentation, implied connections to problems, non-verbal visual allusion, and the like. There were always some outliers, but they were the definite minority.

From what I can see and read, the Democrats have intensified the old tactics, but there’s still a certain accuracy there, if not so much as there used to be.

As for the Republicans, and especially the far right and the Trumpists, accuracy and truth have largely ceased to exist. There was no insurrection, just a peaceful demonstration. Trump didn’t do anything wrong; the Democrats and the left invented it all (despite court convictions that are likely to increase). Hillary was behind a porn/sex ring in the basement of a pizza parlor (except the pizza place didn’t have a basement). Democrats will confiscate every gun in America (except that the Supreme Court has effectively ruled that they can’t).

The list of blatant lies is endless… and Republicans could care less. They’re so invested in their anger and their grievances that they’ll not only shred the truth, but the entire country, and democracy with it.

7 thoughts on “Destroying Truth”

  1. adriandominic says:

    I would be interested in your views as to whether the USA is self-destructing unnecessarily in the same way as it did in 1860.
    I come from the mainland UK where not since the 1640s have we had a revolution which upsets everything. It is still (I would like to believe) a country where the equivalent declaration by John McClain that Obama was a decent family man who happened to be wrong on the issues would not be booed.
    What mystifies me is that a sizeable proportion of your country wants to risk destroying itself or betraying its allies for short-term and unimportant local political gains.
    Even on “wokeism” in the UK, having a civilised conversation on the issues has led to a more nuanced debate on some of the issues happening (By the way, the fact that women wanting to be men is more of an issue does suggest that a discussion about how limiting people feel what society demands is actually more important)

  2. KevinJ says:

    I agree with everything in this post, and it’s a rare Republican I would even consider voting for. (They have to start with condemning insurrections and those who foment them, and go on from there.)

    That said…one thing that didn’t help with keeping truth intact was, back in the 90s, Bill Clinton was busy with sexual predation and perjury, but the mainstream media, at least that I read, wasn’t calling him out for it because he was popular, or because it was biased.

    If political coverage is going to ignore important aspects about a president because the readers/viewers aren’t interested, that’s a first step towards destroying truth.

    And, please, anyone reading this, I’m not playing that both-sides crap. The mainstream media was too casual in its coverage 25-30 years ago, but that’s a far cry from the outright lying and propaganda the right-wing outlets are pushing now.

    I’m just trying to add some historical context. (Although I suppose I should go back to the yellow-journalism days of a century-plus ago in that case…)

  3. Tom says:

    “… Stress and associated health issues …” may be one reason why those who care about the US are no longer the loudest voice in our Federal Government.

    “… as great a disdain for the facts …” is evident under the harsh light shone by the media on government individuals in a democracy and that is why the ‘authoritarian’ few are trying to undo what makes US Citizens proud to sing they are “Free”.

    Blaming the politicians, and specifically the so called ‘conservatives’ and ‘libertarians’, for our present socially accepted attitude towards our ethical honest and righteous inter-personal and civic interactions does not seem right. It was a majority of US Voters who put Trump into ‘service’ as our POTUS and not the politicians. Some politicians tried to keep him there against the wishes of the citizens but there were still a significant few who remembered their oath of office and who managed to prevent it – just.

    How low have our personal standards fallen via inadequate education both at the elementary level as well as higher levels seemingly because of our individual citizen interference with the quality standards recognized world-wide and our worry about “Will it play in Peoria?”

    Will we have a large enough majority of able critical thinking voters who are finally aware of what Trump, Miller, Jordan, Johnson, etc. really represent, and, who will be brave enough to choose an imperfect but dominantly ‘truth’-based group of politicians to lead the US Federal Government for all the people of the United States? Will we, given AI, even be able to recognize ‘truth’?

    I am not asking for great intellectual rapidity, perceptiveness, or poetic power just a resurgence of our natural aptitude. At the end of 2024 will the United States remain ‘free’ because we have been ‘brave’ enough to want to acknowledge the ‘truth’ no matter how painful? I hope so, because then we would have shown ourselves and the world what we mean by our ‘exceptionalism’ and continue, steadfastly, our inventiveness and enterprise.

    Trying to do more than hold my breath: while recognizing that, since the US is supposedly run ‘by the people’, we do have to recognize ‘both sides crap’ because that is who ‘the people’ are.

    1. Tom says:

      One can argue about the definition of truth and the amount of transparency and honesty which needs to be balanced with security in order to run a business or a nation. The result is seen in analyses such as this reported in the Straits Times today:

      It is very difficult for a nation to engender “truth” when a substantial percentage of the citizens hold this type of opinion in the face of contrary evidence:

      Yes, I do not have a quick fix. This situation has arisen over at least 40 years.

  4. TheEquivacator says:

    With no background in politics or public policy, I ended up spending time in DC around 2000 on industry matters. I spent time with leaders on both sides in both the house and the Senate. I was surprised then by the courtesy and at least token respect between the sides, at a time when the presidency was decided by a few thousand votes. The congressmen and senators I met and testified before were thoughtful and informed. My experience left me with a positive view of our future and government. No longer.

    Polarization is the culprit. Somehow the way in which the million megaphones of fragmented broadcasted media and the internet amplifies the extreme has pushed people apart. The moderate voices are not heard.

    Open primaries that enable non-extreme candidates and anti-gerrymandering are the only ideas I’ve seen that can counter the trend… and I don’t know if they are enough. Congressional votes being anonymous as in the Grand Illusion is a nice idea, but not in our reality.

    1. Tom says:

      You may like to read this summary of open versus secret voting:

      As usual “It Depends”! Mainly on the susceptibility of the voter and the reason for taking a vote.

      1. TheEquivocatee says:

        Interesting, but I was referring to congressional votes versus citizen voting as referred to in the paper. For example, if non-extreme Republicans weren’t worried about the impact of their voting records on the ability to win the primary, they might vote their conscience occasionally.

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