I’m writing this after Trump finally flew into history and whilst watching All The President’s Men.
So, it’s time to take stock.
Let’s start with how truth became a relative concept. The main culprits were social media, hiding behind DCMA and literally monetising lies by the barrel load. Then there were the traditional media outlets who conveniently confused their news and opinion output.
We have lived through an age where media has been able to mind bend like never before, and it has been done by using peer groups. The Pals’ Battalions of the First World War are the discussion groups of social media.
Reasonably rational people became racists, revolutionaries and domestic terrorists in vast numbers. Families were split apart, not over a cause like slavery, but over the whipped up rhetoric deliberately implemented by bots and AI engines.
As Hearst and Murdoch knew and know so well, conflict sells. You can monetise extremism a lot easier than the mainstream.
And the shock telly jocks – Hannity, Carlson and Dobbs, none of whom are stupid, knew exactly what they were doing. There’s little question that their own motivation was money, not a sick, racist ideaology.
After all, Donald Trump was once a New York Democrat. But that wasn’t going to make him money. The media is full of New York – and Hollywood – Democrats. What the US needed was a Tea Party figurehead. Sarah Palin didn’t cut muster. So Trump reinvented himself by moving to the extreme right.
Given his family history of racism and exploitation of coloured people, this was hardly an ask.
This is a guy who had to import his wives from Eastern Europe, whose mother and paternal grandfather were immigrants.
The US has the First Amendment. But it’s worth remembering that this was instituted to stop the US Government from censoring citizens – it does not cover the media, let alone social media.
So maybe it’s time to implement some laws to protect demcracy. Laws that defend the truth, or what normal humans regard as the truth. The truth may have two sides that need representing, but the way that mainstream media re-published the lies, the outright, outrageous lies perpetrated by Donald Trump was pathetic. Balance does not involve indulgence. Balance involves weighing the versions of the truth and ridiculing lies.
But he was a great showman, wasn’t he? A clown and an entertainer. All the things politicians are not.
So, 74 million people are disappointed tonight. 74 million people who believed in lies, or used these lies to underpin their world views.
Let’s call them out for what they are: greedy, racist, hateful, stupid. Trump managed to tap into the lowest sentiments of humans and manipulate them.
He also operated a scorched earth policy – you were for him or against him, and the wind could turn in a blink. One after another, Manifort, Cohen, Bannon, Comey, to name but a few, were used and dumped. Yet many remained loyal, like dogs left at the side of the road, longing for their abusers. This approach has proven hugely successful in politics – Hitler, Stalin, Mao and many other successful political leaders have deployed this tactic. Fear works.
The strongman took no prisoners, and his fans loved it. When you’re weak and pathetic and stupid, what else do you need but a poweful leader and icon.
But now it is over. As a Brit who refused to visit the US whilst this psychopath roamed the country, I feel relief. In the UK we have our own morons and fascists to deal with, but the truth is sort of intact, if you can look beyond the fact that it was owned by Murdoch and now usurped by Facebook, Twitter and youTube et al.
For some reason, Brits aren’t as naive as Americans, but we still have idiots heckling nurses outside of hospitals in the middle of a pandemic.
The truth isn’t a relative concept with alternatives, it is what it is, and can elicit different responses, many of which may be valid. The Big Lie now lives on at Mar-a-Lago where it is an insidious seed, like Japnaese knotweed.