Managing Director on Trump's Lies
Jan 26, 2017
Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has been accused of lying more frequently and more egregiously than most politicians. Many Americans are unconcerned. All politicians lie, they say. What difference does it make if Donald Trump lies more frequently than most? Beem argues that it does make a difference. Donald Trump is not just another politician. And his lies are distinctively dangerous to American democracy. Disagreement is inescapable: we do not have the same experiences, interests, or values. Democracy is how we organize ourselves socially despite those disagreements. We argue about policy instead of fighting about it. But for argument to work, there have to be prerequisites. Following Hannah Arendt, Beem presents two: first, we agree that there are such things as facts. And, second, when we argue, we strive to be truthful. Donald Trump lies in ways that undermine these prerequisites. First, he is not merely a liar; Donald Trump is a bullshitter. His lies manifest a rank indifference to the truth. Second, Trump is a gaslighter: he lies with such confidence and combativeness that he makes people doubt what they know to be true. He concludes by outlining how Americans should respond to a Trump presidency.