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THOMPSON: Are there still consequences to lying?

May 20, 2019 - 2:47 PM



There are consequences when you don’t tell the truth. At least, that used to be the case. Today, there seems to be fewer repercussions for liars. And while not all the blame for increases in bigotry, hate crimes and the acceptability of lying can be laid at the feet of Donald Trump...a lot of it can. I sense a palpable shift in the character and integrity of far too many people under the Trump regime. It’s as if people are becoming immune to truth.

In 850 days in the Oval Office, Trump has told more than 10,000 lies, according to the Washington Post. Daniel Dale, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star, prefers to call the lies “false claims”…and counts a shade over 5,000.

Mr. Dale explains that his number is less because “we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional.” I don’t know if that’s simply Canadian nicety…but it just seems when it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck…it’s probably a damn duck. A lie…is a lie. But that’s the problem…Trump tells us a lie is really truth.

Of course, these 10,000 lies - or “5,000 false claims” if you insist on being overly nice - are the public ones…things said when television cameras were rolling and reporters were taking down his every public pronouncement. How many lies - “false claims” - do you think Trump has uttered to people in private?

Let’s face it, it’s hard to keep track of the president’s Goosey-Loosey relationship with truth…he is a serial liar. A couple months ago he told 60 lies in two hours…that’s pretty hard to do…unless you suffer from serious mental issues and character flaws.

So, here we are between Mother’s Day and Father's Day in 2019, and despite a president whose pants have long gone up in flames…Trump hasn’t suffered even a blister or welt. What’s the lesson, the consequences to all of us…our society…our children?

It is - to this point - that you can lie your ass off…and it simply doesn’t matter. There are no consequences. Don’t get me wrong…that lesson isn’t a good one for any of us to learn.
But that’s what children, young adults and - one can assume - even older folks who always wanted to lie through their teeth but just didn’t have a role model are learning.

I’ve followed politics in America for a long time…and with a degree of diligence. But there has never been anyone - Republican or Democrat - who lacks more moral fibre than Donald Trump.
I’m never surprised at how someone like Trump can squirm his way to the top. History shows that a plethora of dictators and tyrants have done it…Hitler, Mussolini, Erdogan, Idi Amin, Mugabe. But America is a democracy…of sorts.

Things like tyrants and dictators can’t happen in America. There are too many safeguards…a Constitution, a Supreme Court, three equal branches of government, checks and balances.
But, where is America? 

Well, if it’s not a “Constitutional Crisis”…there’s no such thing. There are 29 separate investigations into various aspects of Donald Trump’s unethical and likely illegal behaviour and financial skulduggery underway. The Mueller Report - which was narrowly defined - didn’t clear anyone…least of all Donald Trump. He and a host of his family members and political operatives committed crimes…including at least 11 separate counts of obstruction.

But not only do Republicans in the House and Senate - not to mention those in the  Administration - lack character and integrity…a largely ignorant electorate continues to overlook Tump’s tragic flaws. They seem to want just three things…as many Conservatives as they can pack into the so-called justice system, including the U.S. Supreme Court, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and keeping anyone that’s not from Norway from immigrating to America. By the way, most Americans - the vast majority, in fact - don’t want any of these three Right Wing political goals.

Apparently, truth doesn’t matter…Trump folks just don’t care. What’s a lie…or 10,000…or 100,000? I wonder how you can look the other way when Russia attacks the United States…actually influences an election and not be outraged? Trump has spent more on a meaningless wall than he has on defences against another cyber attack by Russia or China…or as Trump thinks, “a guy sitting on his bed who weighs 400 pounds.”

Almost all Republicans in Congress should be ashamed…but they are not. Trump has no conscience, so he is incapable of feeling shame. I never thought I’d see the day when Americans would turn against other Americans…believing instead in a sworn enemy. But that’s exactly where things are today. The Trump Administration foments more hatred against Democrats, liberals, people of colour…Americans…than people who hate America. Trump likes tyrants, dictators…thugs. And Trump supporters defend him. Hear enough lies and you can accept anything, I guess.

Sadly, there might be more wrong with America today than there ever has been. Trump and his Administration are not only incompetent…they are corrupt. So, as truth tries it’s damnedest to reach the surface…like a plant working it’s way through the rockiest soil…Americans who really care about America wait anxiously.

Things might look bleak for Trump…and my Canadian friends ask, “How can Americans not see the reality?” Real Americans can…and do. We long for the days when not telling the truth had consequences. I don’t know what Trump supporters long for…honestly, their devotion to this demagogue defies logic and reason.

I don’t trust Donald Trump…he lost that and earned scorn instead. He has surrounded himself with advisors like John Bolton and Stephen Miller…fellow bullies who never fought a war. Most of his Administration never even served in the military. So, are they telling Trump a conflict in Iran would take the heat off at home? These are just the kinds of people who - with reckless abandon and with lies - start wars. And now we have millions of Americans who simply don’t know the difference between truth and lies…and find it all so inconvenient to even seek truth.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.

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