In 2009, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina drew national attention when he called out President Obama in the middle of a speech to Congress. “You lie!” he charged, when Obama promised that a proposed health care plan wouldn’t deprive people of their family doctors or otherwise significantly diminish access to health care choices. Wilson was correct; Obama was lying, and everyone in Congress, as well as the administration, knew it. Wilson was promoting honesty.
In 2015, Senator Ted Cruz called out Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate for telling a “flat-out lie” about a secret deal in place about the Import-Export Bank. Future events strongly indicate that Cruz was telling the truth about that, and he even named his first book “A Time for Truth”. Like Wilson, he was promoting honesty.
I made the mistake in both of these cases of assuming that standing up for honesty indicated at least a smidgen of integrity.
Today, before the world, both of these people and dozens of others will pretend to believe something they know to be false in order to keep their followers ignorant. They will pretend that there is some validity to the rumors of election discrepancies. They will claim that debunked and often completely irrational claims of ballot stuffing existed despite a lack of evidence from places which had monitors of both major parties present and cameras rolling. They will claim that refusal to allow outside agents of a particular party to act at will within a polling center is somehow unusual and that such a presence would not be threatening (despite many of them recognizing that two members of the New Black Panther party yelling at people outside of a Philadelphia polling station in 2008 was intimidating.) They will suggest that biased numerical models on voting should be trusted after griping for decades that the inclusion of biased models on global warming data rendered the entire concept invalid. They will suggest that third-party rumor having been heard by people is somehow evidence of potential crime, after criticizing “seriousness of the charge” malarkey and rightfully demanding at least a shred of corroborating evidence in case after case where the Democrats had leveled baseless charges against Republicans – such as the effort to hound Bush out of office for failing to complete his National Guard service.
In short, they will lie. They will lie in the exact same fashion that the Democrats have lied for decades, but they will be lying not simply to damage a political opponent but to attack the structure of our republic itself. They will do so because too many of their potential voters already believe the lies which originated from the Trump camp, and in many cases the Congressmen themselves have repeated and strengthened the lies. Amitting it’s all been fiction at this point will damage – possibly fatally – any future political career for them.
When the choice is between their personal power versus honesty, morality, our national history, quelling internal strife, and patriotism, they are choosing personal power.
This experience has cleared a blind spot for me. I’d never subscribed to the notion that those who disagreed with me politically were consistently wrong or duplicitous; I found the “most Democrats are evil!” rhetoric to be extremist and, truthfully, idiotic. That continues to this day, where I think that many of the Trumpists are delusional and obnoxious but not evil even as they move to destroy the foundations of our nation in deference to an immoral criminal who wants to be a tyrant.
I did buy into the idea that those who consistently agreed with me politically shared my desire for integrity. I’ve had that mistake drummed home repeatedly for the last four years, watching people on comment boards, pundits, and politicians alike readily abandon every principle while insisting they were somehow being consistent.
If they broke because of pressures – financial, political, family – they’ve had their opportunities now to recant their mistakes. They had the chance when the Mueller Report was released, demonstrating criminal intent. They had another after the election. Anyone who continues to stand by Trump amidst this latest blatant fiction is doing nothing but trying to cover their four years of capitulation and dissembling. They have permanently abandoned any pretense of decency. And they lie.