What Happens When Truth Doesn’t Matter?

The scariest thing is the number of people who don’t care.

Think about the millions of Americans who will not read about the role George Papadopoulos played in the mess that has engulfed the Trump administration. Thanks to the immense power of far-right media, a large section of the American population has been indoctrinated into believing that anything published by the New York Times is by definition false, by definition designed to undermine Donald Trump.

Think about how many of our fellow citizens take Trump’s tweet from yesterday afternoon as gospel:

There’s a reason why Trump’s arrogance remains unmitigated. He knows the power of brainwashing. He knows that a lie repeated often enough becomes a fact in the minds of the gullible. He knows that even if Republicans sustain significant losses in the 2018 midterms, he could, under the right circumstances, remain in the White House after the 2020 presidential election.

Don’t think Trump doesn’t notice how skittish certain Democrats are about impeaching him for obvious high crimes and misdemeanors if they capture the House and Senate in November. Trump remembers that Democrats didn’t have the fortitude to impeach George W. Bush for his war crimes after they captured the House and Senate in the 2006 midterm elections; the dream of Bush being held accountable for his iniquity in Iraq was deferred permanently. Why should Trump be nervous, if there’s no realistic chance of consequences?

What if the Mueller investigation concludes in a manner that falls short of progressive fantasy? Then we have Trump empowered, Trump unbound, Trump closer to achieving his authoritarian goals. If Congress won’t stop him, who will?

Trump also knows that if the Democratic Party nominates a “flawed” candidate in 2020, the same ennui on the left that allowed him to seize control of the White House in the first place may once again manifest itself. If an “establishment” candidate wins the Democratic nomination, Trump knows that such a nominee, like Al Gore, John Kerry and Bill Clinton in elections gone by, will be damned with faint praise in certain progressive circles, if not disparaged as “GOP-lite.” As the old saying goes, the people united can never be defeated–but what if the people aren’t truly united against Trump, even after four miserable years?

If Trump’s coalition of the disgruntled and resentful (who will remain disgruntled and resentful towards perceived social undesirables even as they’re screwed over by Trumponomics) turns out again in 2020 while Democrats and progressives have a “meh” reaction to the Democratic nominee, Trump will have another term to get his mischief on. That should chill you even more than this week’s weather.

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D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.