Two expressions from the newspaper world: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” and “Believe nothing until it has been officially denied.”
One thing I’ve wondered about — and came to a conclusion about — through this Trumpian nightmare: What happened to pride in calling out bullshit? I know lots of people (lots of smart, skeptical journalists), and I’ve known even more who died or who moved out of my circle of friends, and I can’t think of one who did not take pride in having a well-tuned bullshit detector. No one likes to feel gullible or feel they have been conned, though it happens to the best of us. (I know, I watch “Dr. Phil” somedays.) So the thing that confused and even startled me, from the time Trump first came down the escalator, was how so many people bought his bullshit.
And if you’ve seen the videos from the sacking of the Capitol on January 6, and if you’ve heard what the Trump mobsters had to say about why they were there, you ask yourself: Don’t these people have any pride? Don’t they feel the least bit embarrassed by having tied their hopes and dreams to one of America’s greatest bullshit artists?
Mexico will pay for the Wall?
“Only I can fix it”?
How could so many millions of Americans be conned into believing anything Trump said? What happened to pride in discerning truth from bullshit, either from Trump’s lips or from the Internet?
So, of course, when you run through all that has been said and done to this point — as you listen to the House managers make their case for Trump’s conviction in his second impeachment trial — your wonder turns to reality: Trump’s followers intentionally shut off their bullshit detectors — their filters, so to speak — in order to hear what they wanted: His bigotry and bully talk, his brags, his claims that America would be great (white) again. So, with the bullshit detector off, they were primed to accept his Big Lie about the election.
The thing is, the Republicans in Congress — particularly the senators who will soon vote to acquit Trump of inciting insurrection — know better. They talk and scheme all the time; they frequently have to cut through bullshit to get what they want. They knew Trump was a con man. They knew he was depraved and would damage or even destroy our democracy, perhaps even allow people to be killed, to stay in power. But they knew he would deliver tax cuts and conservative judges. It was worth the risk.
And so here we are — a whole political party with its BS detector disabled, willing to excuse the worst act by the worst president (and greatest bullshitter) in history.
All we can do, and all we must do, is keep speaking truth. Ultimately, the Republican Party will shrink, perhaps even die, as Trump disappears and more Americans turn their bullshit detectors back on.