I believed I had it. My friends, most of them, had it.
Yes, I believed I knew what was true—until around three years ago.
Now I find I have to check and verify statements not just from news media, social media, politicians, public figures, family, and friends, I now have to fact check my own thoughts and beliefs.
I participated in a Round Table of the Incentivization of the president’s and his administration’s lies and conspiracies.
“Common sense tells us the denials of facts, evidence, and witness statements (until American citizens are no longer knowledgeable of reasons for the impeachment of this leader) incentivize the very statements that are themselves lies and conspiracies,” I said in response to an attendees’ question.
One participant in the debate chuckled and said, “But, aren’t we warned by those very sources that anything we hear from any source not associated with him and his political party is fake/fake news?”
“Exactly her point!” shouted someone else among those attending this round-table discussion.
A female attendee in this small auditorium stood and shouted out, “Excuse me but I think most of us think lying is wrong, but isn’t it okay if it’s for a good cause or for the benefit of other people?”
“Is it still a lie?” I asked.
“Yes,” said she.
“Then, the question I have is, what ‘other people’ does it benefit?”
She didn’t, or couldn’t, answer.
“Suppose you are married and you know your spouse is cheating. When you confront him, he adamantly denies it and reverses the target to you and just as adamantly declares you don’t love him or you are delusional. Who benefits from his lies? The person with whom he is having the affair? Men who will hear his story and learn how to act/respond if they are ever accused of abusing their vows? What women benefit from his lies? To whose good did the lies produce? Plus, the lie is still a lie.”
She sat but another stood and asked for another example, one that might be a good lie.
“I’ve tried before today to imagine a lie that would benefit a person or a group that this president has told and I cannot think of any. I asked myself, did he or any of his staff lie to protect immigrants crossing the border? To protect Jewish people under attack and being murdered by racists? Those are lies that definitely would have benefited a group of people. What individual or group benefited from his lies about only his hotel in Florida was found to be the best place for the 2020 G7 Summit? Only he and his family befitted and it could have meant grifting American taxpayers and foreign leaders to do so. That’s illegal.
“What person or group benefits from his lies saying global warming is a conspiracy? When anyone states the truth, consider how he immediately attacks them or the group to which they belong. On top of that, remember when a teenager from Sweden was announced as the Time Magazine Person of the Year because of her leadership activism on global warming, the president proceeded to attack her…a child. Who did that benefit? Plus, consider his claim that clean energy policies will wreck the economy’ that is one of the biggest lies wielded against climate action. And, who is that lie benefiting? Well, consider his administration uses this lie to justify their rollbacks that favor big polluters—and the president’s political cronies—all while pushing us closer to climate catastrophe. Is that a good lie? Are any of his lies good lies? Can someone give me just one example of one good lie he has told?”
When no one spoke up, I continued. “It seems we are all here to share and to learn, so permit me to carry this discussion, or debate, forward. The president and his staff are declaring the entire impeachment proceeding is illegitimate, not simply on process grounds, but, crucially, on the grounds that the American majority who elected the House that impeached him simply doesn’t have any claim to legitimate democratic representation of any kind.
“And, the story he is now telling about his impeachment has enormously important implications for what comes next — in both procedural and political terms — and he previewed this story at his Michigan rally on the night of December 18, the very night the House of Representatives was meeting to approve articles of impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“The president ranted at the rally attendees that after three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes, scams, tonight the House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans!”
The round-table continued the discussion and answering questions about punishing the truth and incentivizing lies from attendees for thirty minutes before we returned to the discussion about the president’s lies at his rally on the night he was impeached.
“It was about the same time the House voted to impeach him for using his office to extort a foreign power into helping him rig the next election and obstructing Congress’ efforts to get to the bottom of it,” a round-table participant said.
“Now, permit me,” I said, “to further demonstrate how this was incentivized. The claim wasn’t simply the absurd notion the House’s perfectly legitimate exercise of its constitutional power of impeachment was illegitimate. It was also a declaration that the American vote was only constituted by those who voted for him in 2016. After all, he declared, “the American voter” means “the American electorate”. But, in this telling, the American electorate that elected the House in 2018 by almost nine points nationally — a genuine American majority — simply doesn’t exist, according to him and his staff.
“Only the minority of Americans who voted for Trump — a minority that was nearly 3 million voters shy of the total that voted for his opponent — constitute the true “American voter. That is, the true American people.”
“How is that incentivizing conspiracies?” asked another person in the audience.
“Good question,” said a debater on the stage, who had remained quiet until this point. “Let me demonstrate. Republicans tried to use theatrics to breathe life into that story during the impeachment debate, thus incentivizing his lies and conspiracies and they were repeated by Russia, BOTs, further incentivizing them until his supporters began repeating the lies and conspiracies as truths.”
But, he went too far as he continued because no one came here to hear more name calling. “We are blasted with fascist statements from an impeached leader, his staff, and the GOP 24-7 (24 hours a day 7 days a week). They began and ballooned into twisted facts and disinformation/lies initiated by other countries’ cyber warriors and their BOTs and then picked up and expounded on by American supporters of a dangerous – and impeached – leader.”
Several people in the audience protested his remarks, some booed him, and others whispered among themselves.
I stood again and raised my arms trying to hush the attendees. “Please, allow me to move our discussion forward to that we may all understand what is happening. Common sense exposes to us the frightening reality that anyone who repeats any of the fallacies and expounds on them further spreads the lies, the rumors, and the distorted/twisted truths, and these individuals and groups of individuals should be aware these are the key features of propaganda and that is what they are spreading on social media.”
The attendees remained restless, but they did remain quiet as I continued.
“Common sense tells us when social media owners/operators refuse to control the lies and disinformation growing exponentially, they are turning a blind eye on our democratic republic, thus, they become complicit in spreading propaganda to destroy our Constitutional rights and the core of our laws and government.
“Common sense makes it unfathomable for me to see so many people support a man who would be monarch; so many who desire a government by kings/queens, lords, and commons where they (the ones who want it so very much) would be the commoners and the upper one percent would become/represent the lords, and the rest are the common people without rights.
“Common sense challenges each of us with the question Why do any who once loved this democratic republic continue to follow this human?
“Common sense blinds some to this mere human’s blatant grandiose delusion and they agree with his declaration he is more than a king, more than human – they believe him when he declared himself the chosen one! His staff and some politicians furthered his delusions and tell us this human does not lie because he cannot lie, that what he does can not be wrong because he can do no wrong.
“That is also considered incentivizing lies and conspiracies.
“Common sense warns us this man is merely human and he can/does lie and spew conspiracies and he can/does do things that are not only wrong but are criminally wrong. He is only a human but he sees himself above all laws, natural and universal, and above all beings on this planet and, at his rallies, uses the “we” to include his supporters/followers the way a monarch uses “we” as all-inclusive of his/her country/countrymen so he appears to be one of them.
“But it isn’t the way he actually sees himself and, rather than ceasing or cutting back on his lies and attacks, he has more than doubled down (a term increasingly used as a media euphemism when political figures tell bald-faced lies and when confronted with contradictory statements, the politician not only fails to retract their claims but instead expresses an increased certainty in their alternate realities/truths) on his failures and impeachment and continue to flood the political zone with conspiracies.”
I was surprised when many in the audience clapped and a few stood to clap.
The designated leader of the round-table ended the discussion with a short speech.
“Thomas Paine,” he began, “stated it best when he wrote and essay pamphlet titled “Common Sense”:
“First –The king is not to be trusted without being looked after, or in other words, that a thirst for absolute power is the natural disease of monarch.
“Secondly – That the commons, by being elected for that purpose, are either wiser or more worthy of confidence than the crown.”
“Commons” is the abbreviation for the British Parliament’s House of Commons (or, the House of those who represent the “commoners” on England/Great Britain…those who are neither royal nor titled lords).
“Article II, section 4 of the Constitution of the United States of American states:
“The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
“It gives the House of Representatives (of Congress) the sole power to impeach an official, and it makes the Senate (of Congress) the sole court for impeachment trials.
“The power of impeachment is limited to removal from office but also provides for a removed officer to be disqualified from holding any future office. Fines and potential jail time for crimes committed while in office are left to civil courts.
“As one of our speakers has in her opening statements began more than once, common sense shows us that Thomas Paine’s words helped establish the rule of law for part of the obligations held by the U.S. Congress in our Constitution. Common sense should inspire each of us with a sense of curiosity to read Paine’s “Common Sense”, which was published on January 9, 1776 and is still considered one of the most influential pamphlets in American history.
“Common sense shows us one of the obvious and continuous problems being overlooked or being ignored is that truth today is penalized and lies are incentivized. We are hoping each of you will take away a sense of loyalty to America and not to a man. We are hoping each of you will begin to listen for the lies, conspiracies, and the attacks on others and then verify for yourselves if what you heard was a lie and how much of the truth and truth speakers were penalized. Thank you all for coming.”