The level of deceit practiced by the Trump campaign is stunning both in depth and boldness. The lack of shame required to tell bold-faced lies of this caliber is usually beaten out of children by the time they turn ten years old; yet Trump, and everyone he has chosen to surround himself with, seem to hold no issue with telling blatant whoppers that are demonstrably untrue. Trump’s relationship with the truth seems tenuous, at times non-existent- the man couldn’t help but lie about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, which was recorded on video and broadcast to the world. Perhaps he caught the country off guard, but this sort of bold-faced dishonesty has been the bedrock upon which politics have been run since the days of Richard Nixon.
When the Watergate scandal broke in 1972, a young 20 year old named Roger Stone found himself involved in the scandal, and used the opportunity to befriend Richard Nixon. From this friendship, memorialized both in Stone’s memorabilia collection (including a Nixon bong) and a tattoo of Nixon’s face on his back. Stone has openly admitted the affect this relationship had on him, notably in a documentary called “Get Me Roger Stone.” In this documentary, he discusses how he learned very early on that the key to survival in the swamp of D.C. was to fight dirty, earning himself the name “dirty trickster.” It’s a title he relishes, as he gained it though such acts as preventing the ballot recount in the 2000 election by assisting to instigate the Brook’s Brother’s Riot. It was also during this time that he worked closely with Donald Trump on one of his aborted attempts at the presidency. Stone embodies a very cynical view of the world, and politics in particular- win at all costs, no matter how low you have to sink to do it. It’s this sort of worldview that led him to create the negative political ads it’s impossible to escape from today. Until 1996, however, Stone used his powers for “good” at least, acting as a sort of chaotic good for the Republican Party, heading up PACS and acting as a campaign advisor, and later a lobbyist. However, in 1996, a sex scandal broke regarding his marriage, and this served to disillusion him and drive him out of Washington. For many years, he took on more of an Independent slant, and even marches in Gay Pride parades as a show of support for the LGBTQA community. He still retained the cynicism he’d learned during his time with Nixon, however, and when Donald Trump hit the political scene yet again, Stone was primed and ready to go. He’d had decades of experience with providing negative advertising and misinformation regarding opponents; and more importantly, he knew how to harness Trump supporters’ greatest asset: their misinformed hate.
It’s not quite unbelievable that this came to pass. People have been making poor choices with negative repercussions since the dawn of time. What is unbelievable is that all this information is available to anyone with internet access- those who chose to utilize it. One thing Trump (and by Trump, I mean Roger Stone, who despite leaving the campaign prior to the election continued to provide support) has done very well is turn a good chunk of the public against the media- trusted media, anyway. Much as Hillary Clinton has fallen prey to her own laurels, mainstream media has been brutalized by Trump so that there is no way, despite how blatant the truth may be, Trump supporters will not believe it unless it comes from a news source Trump himself backs. The news organizations he has chosen to back are far-right extremists outlets that preach hate, mistrust and intolerance of anyone who is different- and the term “different” here is broad. It includes, for the most part, anyone who is not straight, white, able-bodied, or male. It also includes the poor- no matter what color you are. Donald Trump has managed, through the use of lessons taught by Stone and the other deplorables (let’s call them by their name) to channel the fear of difference into a hatred of difference- one the right is willing to go along with because they refuse to think critically about their situation. Which comes back to what I said earlier: none of these people are stupid. None of these people are bad people. But for the country to get back on track, we need these people to confront their anger and their fear, and learn to deal with it in a healthy, productive way. A major part of this can be accomplished by actually getting to know and understand people who are not like them. In return, we on the left who expect them to change need to be ready to forgive, and change ourselves as necessary. We are human beings, and therefore every one of us is flawed. But, just as we share communal knowledge, we share communal strength. We are stronger together. Come together.