AuthorLueders, Bill
PositionCOMMENT - Editorial

A recent, chilling article in The New Yorker quoted Ryan Kelley, the head of a Michigan-based militia known as the American Patriot Council, explaining why he and others flocked to the capitol building in Lansing, some heavily armed, to protest the efforts of that state's governor to limit the spread of COVID-19.

"Chaos across the United States," replied Kelley, a real-estate agent from Grand Rapids. "Antifa taking over areas of the country."

Asked about the pandemic, which to date has killed around 7,000 Michigan residents with no end in sight, Kelley replied, "COVID is nonsense." Kelley attributed all the fuss to "the Democratic Party continuing to do anything they can to get Trump out of office--including hiring people to riot and loot in our streets."

This is what the past four years of Donald Trump have wrought: a willingness on the part of large swaths of the American public to believe anything, thanks to a President who lies about everything.

There is, as a matter of fact, no evidence of a cohesive, nationwide antifa movement, much less one orchestrated by Democrats. COVID-19 has needlessly cost more than 200,000 U.S. lives, or an average of more than two 9/1 Is each week since mid-March. But none of that matters to people like Kelley, because they share the Presidents disregard for objective reality.

Outrageous untruths have become the new national currency, and they will remain in circulation long after the November 3 election, no matter who wins. The damage that Trump has done to international diplomacy, racial justice, immigrants' rights, the courts, reproductive rights, and the environment is horrendous; but the damage he has done to the notion that truth matters is worse.

As The Nations Eric Alterman reminds us in his new book on presidential mendacity, Lying in State, all U.S. Presidents have at times been dishonest. But none has matched Trump's record for near-constant fabrication, which according to The Washington Post has included some 20,000 false or misleading statements since his Inauguration in January 2017. During a fourteen-month period that included the events that led to his impeachment trial, he averaged nearly two dozen lies per day.

Some of the untrue things Trump says may count as political spin, such as his efforts to paint Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden as a tool of "wild-eyed Marxists" eager to destroy the American economy. Some may be chalked up to wishful thinking, as when he blithely insists that...

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