♭ Sometimes I can’t help the feeling that I’m
Living a life of illusion
And oh, why can’t we let it be
And see through the hole in this wall of confusion
I just can’t help the feeling I’m
Living a life of illusion ♭
— “A Life of Illusion,” Joe Walsh
Your expository Weekend Politics Thread host last week expounded discursively on how Trump and his Trumpists galloped past the Big Lie and established permanent resident alien status in Balnibari.1 Or too many words to that effect.
He wants to feel disappointed that the events of the succeeding seven days proved him prescient with nearly every refresh of The Hill website. But he surely cannot claim clairvoyance. He has jumped down that rabbit hole too many times since Trumpism started to infect the body politic circa 2011.
In a now all-too-familiar pattern, Trump repeatedly ordered his acolytes to ignore their lying eyes and they fell in line. An illuminating Atlantic essay, Olivia Paschal dubs this reality-warping phenomenon creating “illusory truth.” It works via two processes. First, telling a lie over and over again makes that untrue version of events familiar. Apace, the familiar starts to feel true.
Second, as explained by a cognitive scientist who apparently lives to scare and discourage truth fans like your discombobulated WPT host, “If you start arguing about whether something is or isn’t a witch hunt, you’ve basically conceded that it’s plausible that it’s a witch hunt, or that that’s the right term to use.”
In other words, any attempt at gainsaying merely confirms, on some level, the correctness of the absolutely false.
♬ So forget all that you see
It’s not reality, it’s just a fantasy
Can’t you see what this crazy life is doin’ to me ♬
— “Fantasy,” Aldo Nova2
Diogenes did not fail to find an honest man. He simply believed everyone who admitted to ever prevaricating. The interviewees queered the deal by telling the truth one stinking time.
No one can win a contest whose rules boil down to “playing guarantees losing.” Yet, pursuing the nearest approximation of objective truth demands conceding that what one believes — what one knows beyond any shadow of doubt — at this very moment may prove risibly false in a hundred years’ or a split second’s time. Smart people3 slide along the edge of this falsifiability razor their whole adult lives and suffer no ill effects.
It only takes one gullible misstep, however, to feel the pain triggered by doubt and convince a person to declare, “Here I take my stand.” From that moment, everything else exists as an unexplored universe known only through reports back from those who claim to have ventured further. The quitter, for lack of a better term, spends the rest of his or her life in a Platonic cave showing shadows projected by consciousnesses other than their own.
For Uvular, he trusts engineers and scientists who do the fancy maths. His universe exists, quite literally, in the minds of other people who refuse to fear the symbols Σ and χ.
For Trump voters, trust flows to the guy who shouts “Here be dragons!” the loudest.4 Their universe subsequently exists as a place where it does not matter that ICE really threw children in cages guarded by pedophiles because it only matters that no one can prove the negative of Hillary Clinton not selling children into sexual slavery from the basement of a pizza restaurant that provably lacks a basement.
♪ We sweat and laugh and scream here.
’Cause life is just a dream here.
You know inside you feel right at home, here.
Yeah, welcome to my nightmare yeah, hey, hey, hey. ♪
— “Welcome to My Nightmare,” Alice Cooper
Proof emerged late on the day before this endurance test of a header posted that, in order of egregious effect but descending delusion,
- Trump, despite live footage of the 15-minute delay, insisted he arrived early for his tea with Queen Elizabeth II.
- Mike Pence and Kris Kobach prewrote the report for Trump’s bogus electoral fraud taskforce, leaving blank spaces for the nonexistent evidence of three million “illegal” votes.
- Trump lied during his 2017 State of the Union Address and many times after in saying that DOJ data show that recent immigrants committed a majority of terror attacks on U.S. soil since 2001 despite the data showing practically zero terror attacks by recent immigrants.
- The Trump administration offered literally no justification for cancelling DACA.
The lies have consequences. Terrible ones. So, to echo the sometimes Vince Fournier’s invitation, join the collective mental breakdown by providing breakdowns of the breaking down of reality by commenting below.