When did lies become acceptable?

Lately, when my brain seems more out to lunch than usual, I’ve been watching Golden Girls. I started when Betty White died, and I realized I had never really watched the series, even though I thoroughly enjoy the acting of all the actresses on the program. My husband and I also started watching the HBO hit Succession. We stopped because we didn’t like any of the main characters. They all seemed selfish, greedy, prevaricating, self-centered—well pretty much all the characteristics that we find so objectionable about Trump. While the characters on Golden Girls were overdrawn, they were all likeable, all good people. Is it possible that the programing of popular shows is a reflection of society, or is society reflecting what it sees on TV?

Now, that’s a question that is much too high a paygrade for me to try to answer. From Plato’s questioning the value of poets to today’s classes in sociology, much more well-informed, intelligent minds than mine have tried to answer. To me it seems a chicken or the egg sort of a question. For each unique, living chicken, the fertilized egg with its unique DNA combination came first. But, for that egg to exist, many, many birds, with many, many mutations, leading to a chicken-like bird had to occur first. That is, for society to accept and even like a program like Succession, greater and greater acceptance of the behaviors illustrated had occured before such a program could become popular.

When did acceptance of obvious lies become okay? It is well documented that Trump told 30,573 lies over his four years in office. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/01/24/trumps-false-or-misleading-claims-total-30573-over-four-years/  

Now all politicians lie on occasion, although often more hyperbole than actual lying. But Trump seems to lie as a matter of preference. I doubt he actually is conscious of how much he lies. He may very well think he is telling the truth. But such judgement again, is way above my paygrade. What is most upsetting about Trump’s lies is the number of people who believe them. About a quarter of all Americans believe that Trump really won the election and is the “true” president. That includes 56% of all Republicans and 3% of Democrats. https://www.reuters.com/world/us/53-republicans-view-trump-true-us-president-reutersipsos-2021-05-24/

The conspiracy theories that support the false view that Trump is the true winner of the 2020 election are multiple. One-third of those responding to an Ipsos poll from January of 2021 believed that voter fraud was responsible for Trump being the looser. Others believed that electronic voting machines switched the votes from Trump to Biden. QAnon believers hold that Trump will conquer the cabal of pedophilic Satan worshippers that are now covertly running the country. The QAnon name for this triumph of Trump’s is “the Storm”. https://www.npr.org/2021/03/02/971289977/through-the-looking-glass-conspiracy-theories-spread-faster-and-wider-than-ever

The claims made based on these false theories have been disproved by the sixty-some court cases challenging the election that were dismissed, often by judges appointed by Trump. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2021/jan/08/joe-biden/joe-biden-right-more-60-trumps-election-lawsuits-l/

But truth doesn’t seem to matter much anymore whether it’s told by a president or a television character. When did that happen? It’s never happened among my personal friends and relatives. Has it happened to yours? Do we all share some of the blame by not objecting more to some of the entertainment offered us?

The Republican Party used to pride itself on having the higher moral ground. No party supporting such a low-life as Trump can claim that high ground. The majority of Republicans back up Trump’s fallacious claims. Unless we insist that all politicians must honor the truth we will lose our democracy. We already have more of an oligarchy than is healthy for maintaining democracy. We have to call liars what they are. Biden won the 2020 election by seven million votes fair and square. To say otherwise is not an alternative fact it is a lie, the big lie.

But those who believe Trump’s lies, really believe them. They truly believe that Trump should be president, and that the election was stolen from Trump. Where is the innocent child to avow “the Emperor has no clothes.” Liz Cheney and others are trying, but it’s not enough. What will be enough? Is it even possible to change their minds? I don’t know, but am certainly open to suggestions.


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