‘We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured,’ said Joseph Biden, the new president of the United States.
He had every reason to say so. His predecessor, Donald Trump, had made 30,573 false or misleading claims as president. Nearly half came in his final year.
“Over time, Trump unleashed his falsehoods with increasing frequency and ferocity, often by the scores in a single campaign speech or tweetstorm.
What began as a relative trickle of misrepresentations, including 10 on his first day and five on the second, built into a torrent through Trump’s final days as he frenetically spread wild theories that the coronavirus pandemic would disappear “like a miracle” and that the presidential election had been stolen — the claim that inspired Trump supporters to attack Congress on Jan. 6 and prompted his second impeachment.’ (Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post 24.01.2021).
The irony of it all, 74 million Americans believed Trump and voted for him. And we know the US is no mean country. It claims to be a great nation. Two centuries of democracy, almost totally literate people and the richest country in the world. Why would so many Americans believe in the false claims of Trump?
Reality is no different in other countries across the globe. In every country, political leaders (and leaders in other domains too) lie at will and people soak them in. So the crucial question, what makes people believe in the lies of their leaders, especially those of the political ones?
For a drowning human, even the thinnest handle will bring hope. The promises and lies that the politicians spread out every day, every moment, become those thin handles that they hold on to. Unfortunately, they never realize that these lies could only take them deeper into the water and ultimately make them drown.
M.K. George SJ