The fact-checkers have tallied that Trump tells about 5-6 lies per day on average, and as Ashley Parker pointed out, that number has been growing lately. One way to avoid getting trapped in the whack-a-mole cycle of taking on those lies is to step back and think about this president’s biggest lie of all.
In countless ways every day, Donald Trump paints a picture of this country in which we are all as ignorant, weak and cowardly as he is. He reaches back to some mythological past in which America was great and plays up the politics of resentment because this country no longer dominates the globe, whites no longer dominate people of color, Christians no longer dominate those of other religions and men no longer dominate women. In other words, Trump’s view of America is his biggest lie of all.
I am reminded of the time a few years ago when right wingers accused Obama of not loving this country. His answer to that question was delivered via a speech at the 50th anniversary of the march in Selma. In it, he described what it means to be an American.
…what could be more American than what happened in this place?
What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people – the unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many – coming together to shape their country’s course?
What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this; what greater form of patriotism is there; than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?
Since this whole family separation policy took center stage, I’ve heard a lot of back and forth between people who say, “that’s not who we are,” and those who rightly point out that we have done things this horrendous many times over the course of this country’s history. There is some truth in both of those positions.
Trump’s lie is wrapped up in a mythological past as an excuse to keep making the same mistakes. Obama suggests that we’re strong enough to be self-critical and, as citizens, have the power to more closely align this country with our highest ideals.
The question before us today is whether we will live out the lie or utilize our strength to continue perfecting our union.