President Trump has ushered in a new reality for America. His campaign showed us this reality is based on fake facts, untruths and his constant demeaning any person or group who challenges him. Truth for him is based on whatever he says it is at that moment. During his three debates with Hillary Clinton, about 60 percent of his facts were false as analyzed by factcheck.org compared to 28 percent for Clinton.
Trump is an ego-maniac—he has a narcissistic personality, intensely focused on himself as the apex—everyone worth anything follows him with utter loyalty or they are thrown under the bus. Trump’s ego demands that he appear better than everyone else in everything he does. His Electoral College win couldn’t be average. It had to be great, thus his fake landslide win. Trump got 56.9 percent of the Electoral College votes. This is not a landslide. This ranks him 46th out of 58 campaign winners dating back to George Washington (factcheck.org). Trump claims he won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally without showing any supporting evidence. His inauguration even becomes a competition with past presidents. Coming in second in anything he does is unacceptable to him, so he forces reality into his imagined box and demands that we all see the world through his lying eyes rather than our own. Does he believe his own lies? Perhaps, which, if true, makes him insane. If not, it means he is deceitful. What a choice.
Trump’s narcissistic personality means that anyone questioning his statements and use of fake facts are threats to his power and dominance. He has to protect his self-image that will probably be “I am the greatest president ever.” His speeches, his tweets, and, by extension, his press secretary and other Trump spokespeople, are so blotted with these erroneous claims that it’s overwhelming.
The press and other media are the only ones he cannot control and who have the power to deflate his image. His media strategy is similar to Putin’s, which is to make them irrelevant. He is trying to convince his supporters that you cannot trust the press and other media because they are biased against him. This is why he has been attacking the media calling them “dishonest” and even calling fact checkers “dishonest scum” (factcheck.org). He believes the media cannot accept his presidency and their goal is to delegitimize his presidency just as Trump tried to delegitimize Obama’s presidency by his birther scam.
Once Trump minimizes the influence the media has he then controls the truth. This is where alternative facts play their role for Trump. This is what dictators do—lie, bully, name-call, and badger. We are going to experience a Trump-style dictatorship where his alternative facts are truth and real truths are lies for the next four years.
Why should we be concerned about this? Our invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent deaths (4,497) and injuries (32,021) to American soldiers and 100,000 to 600,000 Iraqis and costing $2 trillion was the result of alternative facts. Lies can have monstrous, mortal costs. Can we face him down and limit the potential damages? It is up to all of us.
Tom Laurent offers this commentary via PeaceVoice, and is a soil scientist, retired after 33 years with the United States Forest Service.