Even when there is clear evidence Donald Trump has lied, his misrepresentation of the truth doesn’t seem to bother his supporters as much as we might expect. Perhaps to his many followers this is part of the attraction?
In December 2015, PolitiFact awarded Trump “Lie of the Year.” The site rated 76% of his statements as 'mostly false’, ‘false’, or ‘pants on fire’, out of 77 the examined statements. There are plenty of other credible critiques of how inaccurate and dishonest Donald Trump’s comments are. At least one media site has a regular ‘lies of the week’ column.
The Trump phenomenon will no doubt be scrutinised for a long time to come, whatever the election results. In the meantime, his success in becoming the Republican Party’s Presidential candidate gives us some insight of how people build connections with the influencers in the sphere of their life.
Neil Gabler, writing for Bill Moyes, reaches an inescapable conclusion that, as far as our political discourse goes, truth, logic, reason and consistency don’t seem to count for very much these days. Gabler poses some interesting propositions for the enduring level of trust Trump enjoys despite the evident inaccuracies in his statements. I recommend reading the full article here.
One simple reason for accepting his word could be that his views align with those of his supporters. Maybe Donald Trump is saying what people want to hear and they feel better for hearing it. After all, a leader who promises to put America first, to protect “me and my family”, is an understandable priority given the impact the long-running war on terror has on so many aspects of life.
The criticism he levels at opponents is believable given it builds on existing prejudices and past events such as “failing” foreign policy. Supporters continue to believe him because even if the facts are not quite right, what counts is that there is some truth in what he says, and this colourfully illustrates his point.
Similar to how reality television shows popularity and endurance illustrate how people are prepared to accept scripted and edited versions of supposed real-life situations for entertainment. Perhaps, in this sense people are unwittingly giving Donald Trump some license to script and edit his own story line in its most liberal sense.
Humans find it far harder to accept things they hear that require a change in their existing beliefs and positions. Supporters find claims that Donald Trump is lying to be ironic and unbelievable, particularly when he has already warned us that the media are biased and dishonest.
In the end truthfulness comes down to the individual supporters’ judgement. It is possible that deep down people know his claims and promises are stretching the truth. But if he were to even come close to doing what he promises, isn’t that better than the what we have now?