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Republicans Say You Should Believe Their Version of the Truth

Last year's word of the year for Merriam-Webster was "gaslighting". It is still going full force in this year's election season. Politicians and their parties are working to persuade usarticle illustration
to doubt ourselves and come to believe the opposite of what we had supposed to be true.

Mail from The Conservative Caucus asks us to sign and mail back a card thanking former President Trump for saving the Constitution. It reads in part:

"Dear President [sic] Trump
…As a patriotic American I’m appalled and angered by the phony indictments against you. Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution based upon the principle of equal justice under the law, not a two-tiered justice system: one for arrogant liberal elites and another for patriotic conservatives."

The Caucus knows that Americans have only short term memory and figures that by now we have forgotten that Mr. Trump tried to subvert, not save, the Constitution when he instigated an attack on the Capitol in his attempted coup to stay in power.

Moreover, claiming the 2020 election stolen, he posted on Truth Social:

"A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”

For Trump, the Constitution is an obstacle.

It's a two-tiered justice system says the card, but it is Trump who has been given extravagant deference by the justice system. Any other citizen who had intimidated court staff, witnesses, or jurists just once, much less Trump's ten offenses; anyone who refused to return classified documents to the government, and for a year and a half; anyone other than Trump would have been behind bars long ago.

Another mailed fund-raiser says "the integrity of our election process is being gutted", that (in all-caps) "only American citizens should be allowed to vote in U.S. elections." Right-wingers steadily gaslight their flock into believing that non-citizens can vote. “I have every reason to believe that significant numbers of non-citizens and other ineligible people are voting illegally in U.S. elections”, says the promotion letter, which goes on for six pages with not a word to substantiate any of the writer's “every reason to believe”.

the dark side

We have a booming economy with consistently low unemployment, wage gains, a stock market flirting with record highs, but a discouraged populace that is not benefiting. Most don't have extra funds to invest in stocks, inflation takes away their wage gains, steep mortgage rates prevent them from buying a home, rents are unaffordable. True, all is not well.

Trump, though, mines a much darker vein. He works to convince the public to believe much more sinister forces are at play — a QAnon world of conspiracies. "I will stop the killing", he says about the floodtide of immigrants, which are "poisoning the blood of our country". A single killing is a "bloodbath" and is magnified to characterize all migrants. He paints an imaginary world

"I will stop the bloodshed. I will end the agony of our people, the plunder of our cities, the sacking of our towns, the violation of our citizens and the conquest of our country. They’re conquering our country.

He tells us of…

"Marxists, fascists and the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections and will do anything possible — they’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American dream."

He tells his supporters,

“Our cities are choking to death. Our states are dying. And frankly, our country is dying …our country is going to be destroyed.”

The false truth works. Polls show that this deep pessimism prevails among Republicans. We have a society in which close to half of us have been gaslighted into believing in a country ruled by a menacing "deep state" without ever stopping to question just who are they?

did nothing wrong

Right-wing media knows that the truth is hazardous. The lesson of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propagandist, has been well learned: "If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself." Media outlets tell their audiences that the four court cases are politically motivated, are deliberate election interference, that Trump is being persecuted for doing nothing wrong. All are Democratic lawfare — meaning, use of the legal system to destroy an opponent — because as gaslighting must have convinced you by now, there were no real crimes.

Fox News, Newsmax, OAN — they don't report on the major case — the multiple plots to overturn the certification of the 2020 election. Their audiences are left in the dark, thinking that nothing all that bad happened on January 6, 2021. The story became that the attack on the Capitol was no more than a protest that got out of hand. Video of the mob battling the Capitol Police was shown so little on conservative cable that Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga) could say — and be believed by Trump followers — that the crowd gawking in selfies and staying within the rope lines in Statuary Hall looked like a "tourist visit". Trump has turned the insurrection on its head. "It was a beautiful day". The mobs were "unbelievable patriots" wrongfully imprisoned as "hostages" whom he will pardon.

Right-wing media generally leaves its audiences in the dark. Just days ago The Washington Post broke he story of rank corruption: Trump had held a dinner at Mar-a-Lago where he proposed to his oil executive guests that if they raised $1 billion for his campaign, he would reverse Biden's climate regulations. They'd be getting a “deal” from the “taxation and regulation they would avoid thanks to him.” Media Matters, an organization that monitors the news channels, said that there was no mention on the right-wing programming across the four following days. Only left-wing MSNBC covered the story.

litmus tests

You will need to agree if you hope to be Donald Trump's vice president. Belief in the stolen election is required. Even applicants for jobs at the Republican National Committee are asked if they thought the 2020 election was stolen, The Washington Post reported.

Nor do hopefuls dare undercut the groundwork the Trump campaign is already laying to claim fraud if Trump loses the election six months from now. VP wishfuls must equivocate about trusting the election results else risk being excised from Trump's list. Axios rounded up how half a dozen answered the question of whether they would accept the results:

 Sen. J.D. Vance, Ohio: if they're "fair and free".

 Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina: repeatedly ducked the question when asked six times by "Meet the Press" host Kristen Welker.

 Rep. Elise Stefanik, New York: if "this is a legal and valid election”, but 2020 was not owing to states changing laws.

 Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina: if "there's no massive cheating".

 Rep. Byron Donalds, Florida. Not "if you have state officials who are violating the election law in their states".

 Speaker Mike Johnson, Louisiana: would "adhere to the rule of law" but has a “duty” and “responsibility” to contest the results if there is a question about the process complying with the U.S. Constitution.

That a few states changed laws in 2020, mostly to accommodate mail-in ballots for voters to avoid standing in line at polling places with Covid then nearing a peak, is a favorite Republican dodge for claiming that the election was rigged. But voters were not committing fraud. The Republican complaint effectively says that in those states certain groups of Americans should have been disenfranchised. In fact, no fraud of any substance was found in an election that, because of the claims by Trump that it would be rigged, was the most closely monitored ever.

Nevertheless, with no evidence, 7 in 10 Republicans still think President Biden won in 2020 because of voter fraud, a recent Washington Post-Schar School poll reports.

a great sucking sound

They had come to "overcome this gag order", said Sen. Tommy Tuberville (Alabama). "A ridiculous and unprecedented gag order on president Trump", said Johnson, "overriding his constitutional right to defend himself from his harshest critics at the most important time". They are therefore advocating a reformed justice system wherein intimidating jurors, witnesses, and court staff should be permitted conduct. As for Trump's "constitutional right to defend himself", that's always been available. He can take the stand.

Johnson had demanded days earlier that all Trump prosecutions cease.

“President Trump has done nothing wrong here and he continues to be the target of endless lawfare. It has to stop. And you’re gonna see the United States Congress address this in every possible way… It’s about the people’s faith in our system of justice. And we’re gonna get down to the bottom of it. All these cases need to be dropped, because they are a threat to our system.”

The Speaker of the House has dedicated the Republican caucus to Trump retribution.

Days ago Trump told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“If everything’s honest, I’ll gladly accept the results. I don’t change on that. If it’s not, you have to fight for the right of the country.”

Trump will of course not say "everything's honest" if he loses. He never conceded his 2020 loss. In a rally on the beach in New Jersey, Trump said, Biden’s "only good at cheating on elections". The groundwork again. Remember him saying in 2020 Democrats cannot "win elections without cheating." How, is never explained. It is distressing to realize there are millions of Americans so dim as to be taken in by this.

In an interview with Time, Trump did not rule out violence; it “always depends on the fairness of the election.” Biden said, “He may not accept the outcome of the election. I promise you he won’t.” With the odds now heavily in Trump's favor, Biden somehow winning will be met with disbelief, outrage, and outright violent rebellion.

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