For the GOP, the lies were always the point.

If Adam Serwer is right and the cruelty was the point for Trump’s Republican Party from 2016 to 2020, and then after 2020, it’s possible the lie has become the point. Incubating, amplifying and polishing lies is now the full-time occupation of much of the GOP. Faced with the choice between governing and lying, they decided to be providers of fiction.

Trump, who had little mastery of most skills, was always a wizard at this movement.

Back in the days when Donald Trump was the main liar and his boosters jostled all around him to make it so, there was a certain comedic quality to it all: What good is the use of distorting the weather maps or the size. crowds just to flatter some freaky narcissist? Authoritarian experts have warned that this type of manipulation was the way strong men cling to power, sure, but it seemed easy enough to push him away and assume that once he was no longer President, the lingering flattery and the adjustment of reality to his advantage would cease. But it is now clear that the lie itself is the end of the game. As historian Timothy Snyder warned after the Jan. 6 uprising on Capitol Hill: “When we give up on truth, we concede power. to those who have the wealth and the charisma to create a show in its place. Without agreement on certain basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts about us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. This is why debates over whether Trumpism can exist after Trump or why the GOP has refused to abandon Trump miss the point. The point is, the GOP has given up on the truth. Trump himself is incidental to this decision.

The temptation has always been to try to sort Trump’s lies between hilarious lies and pernicious lies, but that, too, misses the point. If the lie itself is the goal, the difference between the big lie and the underhand distortion is immaterial; in fact, the clueless whopper can be more powerful because it puts on a bigger show and offers more opportunities for loyalty. As recently as the second arraignment, the ignorant whopper – about peaceful demonstrators and anti-fa activists under false flag at the capitol– largely lived in fever swamps. A few months later, he is parroted by Asset and members of the Senate. The Big Lie, as absurd as it may be, can overtake reality so quickly that the only trick anyone needs to master it is the patience to overcome it. This means that the only strategy needed for liars is to repeat the lie. Trump, who had little mastery of most skills, was still a wizard in this movement.

For years Trump has used the phrase “a lot of people say” to essentially mean “someday people will say.” He did this understanding that if you say such things enough times, someone somewhere will repeat it as a basic truth, and then your initial statement will be true (ish — a lot of people will say the wrong thing). “A lot of people say [this lie]”Was always the code for” if we get people to say [this lie], it will seem true. Trump’s admission of this principle to CPAC on Sunday betrayed the game. He confessed, of the poll numbers, that “if it’s bad, I say it’s wrong.” If it’s good, I say, it might be the most accurate poll ever. The lie thus goes from a fiction in the lizard brain of a dangerously delusional man to a topical headline to a gospel for people who have been trained to reverse everything they see in the news. In what case why would not Rudy Giuliani advised Trump on 2020 election night that he should just lie and claim victory? It had been the game from the start.

Responding to lies has for years been an epistemological chasm for the institutions responsible for maintaining the truth and managing the facts. The media are in a intramural merger on how to deal with people who lie on cable news. Big social media companies are always do less than spectacularly to control dangerous fictions. The courts try to separate liars from their lies, by sanctioning liars. But when it comes to simply spreading the lie, it turns out to be trickier than you might imagine. TO a hearing in federal court in Detroit on Monday, in which a judge investigated how it could be that Trump’s election lawyers deposit hundreds pages of unverified speculations and mind-boggling mistakes in a deal Seeking to decertify Joe Biden’s victory in Michigan, the problem was laid bare: A Zoom screen full of lawyers bound by sworn obligations of frankness, civility and truth happily claimed people were saying the wrong things . Lawyers representing the Trump campaign, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, have been called in by United States District Court Judge Linda Parker for backing up their pleadings with false, unsubstantiated and speculative claims by theorists of the United States. Random plot that believed lies about reverse voting, the US Postal Service and illegal ballots they saw on the news. Wood and another lawyer, Emily Newman, had the common sense to blame all the other lawyers. But overall, the defense of the lawyers was that while many people believed these lies, the lawyers had no independent obligation to verify whether the lies were true. Some of these lawyers went so far as to insist that the only way to test the lies would have been a full and expensive trial. Others insisted that the opposing lawyer and the judge herself had a duty to examine each of the lies before calling them lies, despite the fact that they had never had any basis in the matter. truth.

Telling lies to make other people lie in order to justify your lie is a tactic; it is not a mistake, and it is not a simple “troll” That is.

Parker was visibly horrified by the failure of lawyers to do anything to verify patently bogus and – as she called them – “fantastic” allegations and layers of hearsay. But one of the lawyers insisted that lawyers have the First Amendment right to repeat lies; while others have made the claim that all lies are tested. It also didn’t matter that another judge in another Michigan case had already dismissed the lies as lies, they insisted. Each judge must start from the proposition that the sky is green and prove the contrary. Oddly, when Parker attempted to test each individual lie in the hearing, the attorney then claimed that examining each lie individually was irrelevant, since it was the aggregate hundreds of pages lies that gave the trial its original weight. “Volume,” Parker reprimanded at one point, “is certainly not synonymous with legitimacy.”

But no, because zero times 900 is not zero, Kraken team argued – instead it equates to 900 kraken, which is the truth. This is of course the revealing – what the lawyer argued was that as long as many people believe in lies and are willing to swear at them, they must have merit, and the courts, the media, and the government must. honor them. It was Josh Hawley’s defense for voting to put aside 2020 voter certification. This is the legal version of “a lot of people say [lie]”And the repetition of lies by the council only serves to amplify the lie even further. Powell, in a closing statement, defended all lies and then compared his heroic portrayal of those lies to the action of the lawyers in Brown v. Education Council. “It is the duty of lawyers with the highest tradition of the practice of law to raise difficult and even unpopular issues,” she intoned. “The fact that there may have been an unfavorable precedent against us doesn’t change that fact. If this were true, there would have been no decision called Brown v. Education Council. We practiced law with the highest standards. We would file the same complaints again. Wood, under a legal obligation not to post video or screenshots of the proceedings, then posted Powell’s closing on Telegram. On the advice of his lawyers, he withdrew it, but that reveals the game: what they are presenting is not a legal argument; it is spectacle.

The the 2020 election was not stolen; it’s a lie. Michigan was not stolen for Biden; it’s also a lie. Voting machines haven’t returned thousands of votes, lie. Critical race theory is not taught to kindergarten children; it’s a lie too much. The critical race theory that is not taught to kindergarten children also does not argue that whites are bad; it’s a lie. Tucker Carlson is not being watched by the NSA, lie. Telling lies to make other people lie in order to justify your lie is a tactic. This is not a mistake, and it is not a simple “trolling” either. Telling lies so that other people can spread the lie is propaganda, an act of violence, and a way to establish that not all institutions that rely on truth are trustworthy.

Within the confines of his Zoom Screen and judicial authority and with unimaginable patience, Parker has done a masterful job of hushing up lies and modeling what a search for the truth really requires. But as Powell and Wood have demonstrated, neither Parker’s courtroom, nor his Zoom hearing, nor even the threat of substantial penalties and deregistration, has any power over them. Because no institution of facticity can contain them. In Tim Snyder’s “post-truth” America, if we can talk, we can lie, and if we can lie, we can persuade. For those who advise us to ignore liars, know that you are not the intended targets. Those who are the intended targets reward and compensate liars by providing them with what they need: doubt. “This case was motivated by doubts,” Don Campbell, a lawyer representing the kraken lawyers, lectured on Monday, fanning even more doubt. “The point is, people doubted this election. It happens. ”But doubt doesn’t just“ arise. ”It is warded off, fed, watered and poured out. That is, as it always has been, the point.

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