Opinion: See No Truth, Hear No Truth

September 12, 2023 By Michael Weymouth

Senator Lindsey Graham is unapologetic about the many lateral arabesques he has committed in his relationship with former president Donald Trump, claiming that any politician who is not willing to change his opinion based on the prevailing political winds does not belong in politics. So much for the American belief in the principled politician depicted in the 1939 film, “Mr. Smith goes to Washington.”

Graham’s latest peccadillo is to claim that the entire Georgia RICO case against Trump and his indicted co-conspirators is just a case of Trump and his supporters “pandering to their base,” which is not a crime. This is a ploy that is unlikely to prevail. Still, pandering is hardly a noble endeavor: pandering is the act of catering to or profiting from the weaknesses, vices, or unreasonable desires of others. In essence, it is an acknowledgment that Trump’s so-called base is weak of mind, poorly versed in civic issues and thus easily manipulated. Suffice it to say, this is not a good thing unless you happen to be one of those doing the pandering.

Republican strategist and right wing gadfly Steve Bannon once said, “It’s not whether something is true or not, it’s whether or not you can make people believe it’s true,” a derivation on NAZI Joseph Goebbels claim,’“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Statements like these should be a wakeup call for American voters, but unfortunately too many of them are not willing to invest in the time it takes to get to the truth.

George Washington University political science professor Samuel Goldman says that “as far back as 1943, 77 percent of Americans knew essentially nothing about the Bill of Rights, and in 1952 only 19 percent could name the three branches of government.” In 2011, almost twice as many Americans could name a judge on “American Idol” than knew that John Roberts was chief justice of the Supreme Court. A 2018 survey found that most Americans couldn’t pass the U.S. citizenship test, or name the two nations we fought against in WW 2.

To quote New York Times columnist David French in referring to the present criminal indictments against former president Donald Trump, “Civic ignorance is a very old American problem, and when key members of the political class abandon any pretense of knowledge or truth, a poorly informed public is simply unequipped to hold them to account.” And holding Donald Trump and those in his orbit to account for attempting to overthrow the 2020 election is exactly what Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis, is attempting to do. Nothing more, nothing less. In the meantime, Lindsey Graham and other Trump supporters call Willis’s investigation a partisan witch hunt, assured that their base will believe them. To wit, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll, 46 percent of Americans think the charges against Trump are politically motivated.

French goes on to say, “And when you combine ignorance with unrelenting partisan hostility, the challenge grows all the greater. Because of the enormous amount of public ignorance, voters shut out every voice that could tell them the truth.”

If there is any doubt about the truth of what Donald Trump and his minions did, and what the consequences should be, the US Constitution spells it out pretty clearly: Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment gives Congress the power to disqualify someone who has already held a public office from holding “any office” if they participate in an “insurrection or rebellion” against the United States.

Note that the Constitution gives the members of Congress the power to take this step. If only they had the courage and conviction that Fani Willis has, this sorry chapter in American history would have been over long ago.

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