The Post-Factual Election: Trump, Lies, and More Lies

"There's something you don't fucking understand," my friend from western Virginia told me. Cal and I had been catching up. When he told me that he was thinking of taking a job back up north "just to escape all these Trump fuckers down here," we couldn't avoid discussing this goddamned election. "You keep thinking that if you can show that Trump is lying, that they'll abandon him. That's not gonna happen. They don't give a fuck if Trump's lying or not. They just don't care. In fact, they'll believe Trump and say that CNN is lying because it's just the liberal media. Trump voters don't give a shit about truth. They don't give a shit about facts. All they care about is that they hate Obama, they hate Hillary, and they want to elect someone who isn't either of them." That made sense: these are people who value faith above reason.

We talked before Trump held his fake-out press thing where he used campaign funds to advertise his newest hotel in Washington, D.C., got some old white racist soldiers to tell everyone how amazing he is, and said, briefly, that Hillary Clinton started the questioning of President Obama's place of birth during the 2008 election campaign, that he "finished it" when President Obama's birth certificate was released, and that President Obama was born in the United States. The reaction of reporters and correspondents across the board was one of a concerted "What the fuck was that?" On CNN, a stunned John King and Jake Tapper responded like they had been grundle-punched from behind, flatly declaring that Trump was lying. Tapper, in particular, said that he had covered the Clinton campaign in 2008 and knew for a fact that Trump was wrong about Clinton.

That's where we are in this goddamned election. We live in a post-factual time. Trump lies with such regularity, with such alacrity, and the lies are covered like they aren't lies that obviously frustrated on-the-ground reporters have to state that they know that Trump isn't talking about real events. For example, Trump went on Fox and Harassment yesterday morning to tell the knobgobbling trolls on there that when Rev. Faith Green Timmons interrupted him when he was speaking at her church in Flint, Michigan, people in the audience were calling out, "Let him speak." An NPR reporter who was in the room in Flint said, on the air, "That isn't true. In fact, several audience members began to heckle Trump, asking pointed questions about whether he racially discriminated against black tenants as a landlord."

But, again, remember: it doesn't matter to anyone but you and me that Trump is a lying piece of shit-covered garbage. His voters have been told for decades that the mainstream media is in the bag for Democrats (which means "blacks, immigrants, queers, feminists, etc."). That great, huge lie has colored political coverage since the Reagan era, and it really blew up during the administration of the first George Bush, when defunding PBS and NPR was on the table because of perceived bias. For its part, many media corporations bought into the lie. Imagine that. Imagine believing the worst things terrible people say about you and changing yourself accordingly, even if you know those things are false. And still, it wasn't enough. So we got the rise of right-wing talk radio and then Fox "news," constantly undermining reality and mainstreaming ideas that would have once been considered too obscenely inhuman and hateful to be allowed into the public discourse. And that includes the treatment of the Clintons as America's Most Wanted instead of as a couple of public servants who stumbled a few times, like everyone fucking does.

Right now, Trump is the pinnacle of that willful ignorance masking a white supremacist, ultra-capitalistic agenda. But take a warning from someone who has watched this since the 1980s: it can always get worse. We thought Reagan was as bad and stupid as a president could get. Then we got Bush, Jr. And we thought that that was the lowest we could go. And now Trump is polling even with Clinton. But if Trump loses, the lesson will not be that a shitheel billionaire slumming it with the proles was a fucking racist asshole whose politics should be tossed in the slime pit from which they were belched. No, it will get worse. The next faux populist maybe won't have Trump's baggage.

"What fucking billionaire runs for president?" I asked Cal. "Ross Perot, but he was bugfuck insane. Bloomberg floated the idea but backed off." We agreed that real billionaires were probably powerful enough and that they wouldn't worry about doing things for the peon regular people. But Trump obviously had nothing better to do and was just looking for a new amusement, another game he could try to win.

We talked some more, each thinking about our exit strategy from the United States should Trump be elected. I'm leaning towards Ireland, but I'm good with Canada. He's thinking South America. "Paraguay? Or Ecuador?" Cal said. I responded that countries like those might elect their own Trump. These are fantasy, bullshit discussions. Few of us could afford to just uproot and head across borders and oceans to begin again.

All we can really do is hope that there are enough people who believe that reality is real, that truth exists, and that facts trump lies.