Politicians’ Lies No Longer Matter in a Post-Truth World

Politicians’ Lies No Longer Matter in a Post-Truth World November 23, 2020

This is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, on July 22nd:

If it ends up that Biden wins in November—I hope he doesn’t, I don’t think he will—but if he does, I guarantee you the week after the election, suddenly all those Democratic governors, all of those Democratic mayors will say, ‘Everything is magically better, go back to work, go back to school.’ Suddenly the problems are solved. You won’t to have to wait for Biden to be sworn in.

You can even watch the video of Cruz saying this, here. And it wasn’t just Cruz! Many many many Republicans—including Trump himself!—claimed in the face of all evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic would end and disappear the day after the election.

Not a single person should vote for Ted Cruz, or trust his judgement, ever again. When you’re that wrong—and that wrong about something experts could and did tell you you were wrong about—there should be consequences, and those consequences should include a complete and total loss of credibility and public trust.

Consider the sequence of events: Republicans claimed that the pandemic and/or pandemic restrictions were a Democratic plot to defeat Trump at the ballot box, and that the pandemic and/or pandemic restrictions would end the day Biden won. The election came, Biden won, and the pandemic did not end and Democratic governors and mayors did not remove pandemic restrictions—instead, the pandemic began accelerating, as scientists had long said it would in the fall, and even many Republican governors and mayors started implementing pandemic restrictions they had previously eschewed.

This is a colossal failure on the part of politicians like Cruz to understand the basic nature of reality. Cruz should be all over the media right now saying not just that he was wrong about the pandemic, but also that he has fundamentally misjudged the Democrats.

Think about it: Cruz was more willing to believe that Democrats were consciously and intentionally destroying the economy in order to unseat a Republican president than he was to believe that Democrats were following scientific and epidemiological guidance and trying to protect people in their states from a deadly new virus.

That Cruz could make such egregious misjudgments not only about the science of a new disease that is killing his constituents but also about the motivations and actions of his primary political opponents ought to be career ending.

And yet it won’t be.

This moment ought to be a reality check for ordinary Republican voters, the moment when they say “wait a minute, this doesn’t make sense, I feel like I was lied to.”

But it won’t be.

You see, ordinary Republican voters are currently very busy believing the bald-faced lies being spread by individuals like Trump and Cruz about the integrity of our election.

Reality no longer matters. Facts no longer matter. Being wrong—obviously, clearly, inescapably wrong—no longer has consequences.

Ordinary Republican voters are usually quick to complain about politicians—remember, Trump was elected partly because he wasn’t a politician—but what does it mean when lies—overt, easily checkable lies—no longer have any consequences at all? What does it mean when a politician can lie, and lie, and lie, and voters don’t even care?

What does it mean to live in a world where truth does not matter? We are only just learning. Though perhaps we have been learning, for some time. Truth didn’t matter when Bush invaded Iraq. Truth didn’t matter when Republicans claimed Obamacare included “death panels.” Truth didn’t matter during Iran-Contra, either.

It’s possible the last time truth mattered was in the 1970s, when Republicans pushed Nixon to resign when faced with incontrovertible evidence regarding his actions. Still, regardless of any particular moment or exact path, I am afraid of what comes next in a world when truth and fact have been exchanged for rank populist demagoguery.

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