Now that the election is over, rightwing outlets are admitting their claims the election was rigged were baseless. False. Wrong. Irresponsible. LIes.
But once out there, it’s so hard to get toothpaste back into the tube.
By Umair Haque (emphasis his):
Trump Told Three Big Lies — and They’re Ripping America Apart
The Three Big Lies That Hide the Ugly Truths America Still Doesn’t Want to Confront
By now, the story of the last few weeks has become dismally clear. There was, it seems, a hard coup at the US Capitol, carried out by extremists, which was planned, organized, and funded, apparently possibly by Bitcoin payments — whose goal was to capture, hold hostage, and assassinate legislators. Three words: white supremacist terror. Designed to overthrow the government. And it came this close — the blink of an eye — to success.
Why? All because of a Big Lie.
Trump’s told three formative Big Lies over the last five years. And while Trump may be on his way out of office, the Big Lies are going to outlive his Presidency. Millions upon millions of Americans believe them — and they are going to keep on ripping America apart.
Unless, that is, I suppose, the Ugly Truths they try to hide are revealed, understood, shared, and discussed.
So let’s talk about Trump’s three Big Lies — and the Ugly Truths they are designed to hide. Let me begin with the first Big Lie, and we’ll trace the whole series of them backwards, one by one.
Why did Capitol Hill get assaulted by fascists, who shot it up, planning to, let me say it again, assassinate legislators? Because of Trump’s first Big Lie. The most recent one. “The election was stolen from us.” I predicted he’d say that, and I wasn’t kidding. It’s what fascists do — twist reality inside out, in order to gaslight you, and keep their movement alive.
It’s hardly just the extremists who assaulted the Capitol though. How many Americans believe this Big Lie? The answer’s chilling. Massive, massive numbers do. About half of Republicans believe the election was stolen from them. That’s 35 to 40 million people.
Trump’s Big Lie about the election being stolen wasn’t just obviously going to result in a coup attempt. That is what it was designed to do. To provoke one, embolden one, and then to justify one, after it happened.
Imagine for a moment that the terrorists who stormed the Capitol had been successful at the massacre of legislators they’d planned. Where would America be right now? Trump would probably be declaring martial law, and postponing the inauguration. The GOP would probably back him. America would be on its way to full blown authoritarian rule.
Why do so many Americans believe this Big Lie — as obviously false as it is? One answer is that social media radicalises them. They live in alternative realities, universes of lies, which no truth ever penetrates. But that’s only a partial answer. A better one, a truer truth, is that millions of American believe the election was stolen from them because it is what they want to believe. Trump is just pandering to their biases.
White Americans — sorry, here we go, we’re going to have to talk about race, because this was a white supremacist coup — backed Trump all over again as a majority. They are the ones who believe the election was stolen from them. And that is because white Americans, as a social group — maybe not you, but on average — believe America belongs to them. That is what a supremacist society is, and until 1971 or thereabouts, America was the world’s largest apartheid state. 1971 wasn’t so long ago — and so it’s hardly surprising that a majority of white Americans believe America belongs to them.
Ergo, “the election was stolen from us!” It’s just another way of saying: “What we want happens around here! This country doesn’t belong to all those minorities and strangers and foreigners and immigrants! Why, they used to be my grandaddy’s slaves!!”
Who’s the us in “the election was stolen from us”? White people. Remember, America was a white supremacist society for centuries — not the genuine democracy America’s only been trying to be for a mere handful of decades. They might not know it or admit it — but what else were they voting for Trump for? Trump pandered to this bias in his raging propaganda over the last few months — but the bias existed long ago, and has never moved an inch, and you can see that in the stark fact that white Americans as a social group have never voted for a progressive President, ever, not even Joe Biden. Why “the election was stolen from us!” was so seductive, seemed to infect white America like a plague of stupidity — it makes a lot more sense when you understand all that, especially the fact that white Americans as a social group do not want to live in a society of equals to this very day. “Us” means white people, the more than half of them who are Trumpists, fascists, fanatics.
Big Lie: “the election was stolen from us!” Ugly Truth: that “us” is white Americans, who, as a social group, still think the country should belong to them, and anything else must be theft, to be fought, then, justifiably, by force.
And so it was almost inevitable that a hardcore minority of white people who seem to believe that America belongs only to them — and so the election was stolen — would act violently to steal it back. Especially when their President licensed them to do so. It was just a few weeks ago that Trump put the Proud Boys on “stand by.” For what? For the coup. And then…he said go.
Why do white Americans think America belongs only to them? How does supremacy translate in the modern context? That brings me to Trump’s second formative Big Lie.
This one is hidden in plain sight, where almost no one sees it. “The Swamp has failed you!”
Trump’s said the equivalent of all that, over and over again, meaning: all those corrupt and nasty elites in DC and Manhattan could care less about you, the average formerly working class usually white person, who now lives a life of poverty and despair.
It’s true that American elites are venal, foolish, and corrupt, like their Soviet counterparts. But they are not the reason that the average white American’s life fell apart. The Swamp was not what destroyed America’s prosperity.
What or who destroyed America’s middle and working class? Americans did. I know that sounds extreme, but hear me out. Who was responsible for even white Americans not having decent healthcare, retirements, jobs, incomes, savings? It wasn’t the Swamp. It was just what Americans — especially white ones — themselves voted for, over and over again.
So what happened? Instead of having affordable healthcare and education and retirement, even white Americans soon enough had to pay astronomical amounts for such things, the kinds of amounts America’s now famous for, $50,000 for childbirth, $150,000 for an operation, $400,000 to send a kid to college. And that is what produced massive poverty, destroyed the middle and working class,
White Americans have never voted for the social contract of a modern society, like Canada or Europe, where everyone enjoys decent levels of basics, offered by public institutions, like healthcare or retirement or jobs. Never.
Why not? The answer, again, sadly, is racism. The average white American voted against any kinds of public institutions or goods because they thought to themselves: “Those minorities don’t deserve such things! I won’t pay for their healthcare and retirement!” Racism cost America a functioning social contract. White people as a social group made a choice — better to stay supreme atop a failing society, than be equals in a functioning modern one.
That is, better to be poor and have the status and power of whiteness, than to be better off economically, financially, materially, but less socially and culturally powerful. They chose not to have a functioning society even if it included them. Who else in the world votes against their own healthcare and retirement? Only, across the entire world, white Americans.
That is how the Swamp in DC didn’t destroy America’s middle and working class. It destroyed itself. DC became a place of corrupt, foolish, Soviet-style officials — because that is what white Americans voted for. It didn’t become a city of, say, an American Healthcare System or American Retirement Fund because, full of public servants working nobly to make everyone better off, because American whites didn’t vote for that. That’s all a little complex and subtle, and nobody much tells this story, so let me summarize.
The Big Lie: the Swamp destroyed America’s working and middle class, especially the white part. The Ugly Truth: Americans destroyed their own prosperity, upward mobility, futures, because white ones denied everyone else in America as a whole the chance to have a modern social contract, just because they didn’t want any other group to be equal to them.
And that brings me to the Big Lie at the heart of it all. How did Trump rise to power? He told Americans something they had believed for centuries, and only been asked to stop believing in relatively recent times.
Trump’s blamed the average American’s woes on minorities, others, immigrants, refugees. He scapegoated powerless groups in society for the struggles the majority now faced. But the majority’s lives had fallen apart, as we’ve discussed, through their own choices. Americans, especially white ones, are why America doesn’t have any functioning institutions — that’s what they voted for. And yet nobody wants to admit their mistakes, do they?
So this Big Lie was catastrophically successful. The average American, whose life had fallen apart, simply ate it up, especially the white one. Who was responsible for the fact that 80% of Americans lived pay check to paycheck, couldn’t raise a tiny amount for an emergency, lived and died in unpayable debt? Why, it was those minorities.
Why? Because they weren’t like us. They weren’t pure in blood and true in faith. There was something inferior about them. We were the superior ones, the master race. It was our inherent genetic destiny to be…
That was the first and formative Big Lie. “Make America Great Again!” What did it always mean? “White People are the masters, and everyone else the slaves. Whites are genetically superior. Everyone else is inherently inferior. Restore America’s destiny! Make it a nation of the pure-blooded and true-hearted again!!” MAGA was always a thinly, barely veiled fascist appeal, one so naked that it was obscene. And yet it went unchallenged, more or less, in America, and still does.
I want you to think about this carefully. When was America great, if we needed to make it great “again”? It was an apartheid state until 1971. And Trump was harkening back to some nostalgic past, some garish, surreal utopian 50s suburban daydream, lit with burning crosses by night, where not a minority lived in that perfect suburb of gleaming new appliances.
“Again” wasn’t the 90s, when those Dems rules. It wasn’t the 80s, when those scummy yuppies did. So when was it? It was just before.
Before civil rights. Before equality, before gay rights, before women were equals, before. MAGA was always just a naked atavistic call to arms. Let us return to before. Before when? Pick your grievance? Hate women? Cool, before women could vote. Hate minorities? Cool, before they could drink from the same fountains. Hate the LGBTQ? Good, before they could marry. Hate them all? Excellent — let’s work together to bring it all to life, all the hate, and build some kind of Handmaid’s Tale style dystopia, by way of Mein Kampf.
I mean this seriously. When was America “great”? Was it during World War II, when America fought off the Nazis — but was still the apartheid state the Nazis studied, admired, and wanted to build? Was it after slaves were freed — but Jim Crow was soon passed? When? I’m not saying: America was bad, evil, terrible, and so on. I don’t know — you have to judge that for yourself. But I am saying that MAGA was the original Big Lie.
Maybe the intentions of the framers were “great.” Certainly, though, the execution left a lot to be desired. America didn’t evolve into a nation where all people were free to pursue life, liberty, and justice equally. It became an apartheid state. And so MAGA stopped dead any real conversation or discussion about how America had got here. Where was here? To a fascist in the White House. Instead, it was accepted that this numinous, vague goal of American “Being Great Again” wasn’t thinly veiled code for: “white people should have all the power, because they’re inherently superior, and that is how they ‘founded’ this country. Never mind the slavery, genocides, and hate!”
And because that was never challenged, it was predictable that Trumpism was going to end in white supremacy, which is what it had always been. Big Lie: MAGA! Ugly Truth: Trumpism was always white supremacy, a movement of it, which, when politically applied, is better called fascism.
I don’t think America’s even begun to discuss the Ugly Truths that Trump’s Big Lies were designed to hide. The fact that millions of Americans believed these Big Lies not just because Trump told them particularly well, but because they wanted to, and they wanted to because that is what they had been culturally and socially conditioned to do all their lives long.
Trump’s Big Lies are going to go on ripping America apart long after Trump is gone. Millions upon millions of Americans believe them. And Trump will be there, repeating them in even more extreme ways, now that the shackles of the Presidency are removed. The millions of American who don’t believe them are going to find themselves amidst a radicalised society, where their friends, colleagues, and neighbours seem to believe things that are at odds with reality — and some, maybe many, back real, lasting, and serious violence to apply politically and socially too, just like the fanatics did on Capitol Hill.
The only way that Trump’s Big Lies don’t go on ripping America apart is if Americans are ready to face the Ugly Truths those lies are designed to hide — ugly truths about themselves. Nobody wants to do that. I get it. It’s hard, uncomfortable, stressful work, facing the ugly truth. And yet America is where it is today because it has done far too little of it yet.
One day more.