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Trump Thinks He Can Create His Own Facts— But Why Has The Whole GOP Jumped On His Bandwagon?

Can you name all the Trump sycophants in the picture? First person who gets 'em all right and emails me at wins the prize

A very long time ago, I worked for someone whose personality was incredibly like Trump’s… and they were acquaintances and both notorious liars, but more so than just spewing routine falsehoods. Both men totally bought into the mindset behind Joseph Goebbels' malign theories of propaganda and mass manipulation, basically that you could bend reality to your will by repeating lies over and over. My boss used it in business, as did Trump, but Trump, like Hitler, went on to use it to build a massive cult-like movement, MAGA.

On top of that both shared a lawyer who was, at least in part, a mentor: notorious swindler, master manipulator and purveyor of deceit Roy Cohn, an unscrupulous character known for his Machiavellian tactics, penchant for distortion and utter disregard for truth. He taught both men how to brazenly bend reality to serve their own interests and agendas in business and, for one, in politics.

As you know by now, people who engage in persistent lying and manipulation to shape their own reality exhibit characteristics of narcissism and sociopathy. They believe— like my old boss did and Trump does— that if they repeat a lie often enough or use persuasive propaganda techniques, they can convince others to accept their version of reality. It certainly has worked well for Trump in his cult-like MAGA movement.

Maintaining a web of lies and deceit has been psychologically taxing on Trump and has led to a degree of isolation and to distrust from others. Eventually, the truth tends to reveal itself, and the consequences of deception can catch up with people like him. His whole world could collapse if he’s found guilty in the criminal trials he’s facing. Yesterday, for example, a new poll from NBC News that shows Trump ahead, flips when respondents are asked how they would vote if Trump were convicted of a felony. The polling then shows Biden taking the lead.

It was almost inevitable that the MAGA and QAnon cults would merge. Manipulative and deceptive behavior are foundational in cults like these with cult leaders like Trump typically employing deception, manipulation and psychological coercion to control their followers and maintain their power. It's even worked on members of Congress. Cult leaders create their own version of reality, often centered around their own authority and teachings and use techniques such as isolation, group-think, fear, emotional manipulation and indoctrination to keep followers under their influence while they use propaganda techniques to shape the beliefs and behaviors of their followers and to discredit dissenting views, leading to a total erosion of critical thinking and autonomy. Just look at the House Republican conference-- not just morons and jackles like Marjorie Traitor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Ronnie Jackson, Matt Gaetz and Bob Good, but at relatively normal conservative politicians as well.

Interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on This Week yesterday, Hakeem Jeffries asked “How can a bill be dead on arrival and extreme MAGA Republicans in the House haven’t even seen the text? They don’t even know what solutions are being proposed in terms of addressing the challenges at the border. House Republicans at this point are wholly own subsidiaries of Donald Trump. They’re not working to find real solutions for the American people. They are following orders from the former president.”

That said, it’s worth looking at PolitiFacts' analysis of their record of fact-checking Señor Trumpanzee, a thousand of them, more than any other politician in history. Their team wrote that “It's not unusual for politicians of both parties to mislead, exaggerate or make stuff up. But American fact-checkers have never encountered a politician who shares Trump’s disregard for factual accuracy. Our fact-checking saga of Trump began in 2011, when he used his celebrity to amplify ‘birther’ conspiracy theories to undermine former President Barack Obama’s eligibility. The pace of our checks intensified in 2015, with his surprise Republican primary ascent and his 2016 defeat of Hillary Clinton. Trump’s turbulent policy-by-Twitter updates kept our reporters sprinting during his presidential tenure. He downplayed the COVID-19 public health threat and fanned persistent falsehoods about voting and election results that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s fast-and-loose style surely endears him to some of his supporters, who propelled him to the White House in 2016 and made him the Republican front-runner to challenge President Joe Biden in 2024... About 76% of his statements earned ratings of Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire… For Trump’s accusations and insults, accuracy hardly matters.”

More than 18% of our fact-checks of Trump landed at Pants on Fire, which we define as a statement that is not just false but ridiculous. 

… Trump has also fared worse than three frequently checked politicians who have a median rating of Mostly False: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA); and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).
“It's been an astounding eight years in American politics,” said Jennifer Mercieca, a Texas A&M University communication professor and a historian of American political rhetoric. “He’s built his entire political identity on the fact that he doesn't owe anyone the truth about anything.”
In his 1987 best-seller The Art of the Deal, Trump described “why a little hyperbole never hurts.”
“People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole,” Trump wrote. “It's an innocent form of exaggeration— and a very effective form of promotion.”
That approach held true for politics as it did for business. Ever since he descended the escalator at Trump Tower in 2015, we have encountered a firehose of claims. 
…Trump campaigned in 2015 and 2016 on a message of fear of immigrants illegally in the U.S. He told Americans that “the Mexican government ... they send the bad ones over.” That’s Pants on Fire. Most Mexicans were crossing the border seeking work. There was no evidence that their government sent criminals. 
Trump also wildly misrepresented Democratic policies. In October 2016, he said Clinton would allow 650 million immigrants into the U.S. in one week. That’s an absurd number considering the U.S. population was about half that amount.
In December 2017, Trump said that under the diversity visa lottery program, other countries “give us their worst people”— a distortion of how the U.S. government vets and selects them. 
During the 2020 campaign and Biden’s presidency, Trump continued to use scare tactics, falsely stating that Biden halted virtually all deportations, including of murderers, or planned to give immigrants welfare benefits.
Trump’s ridiculous statements about elections stretch back to 2016, when a few months before Election Day he called elections "rigged." After he won in 2016, Trump claimed there was "serious voter fraud" in states he lost. It was particularly absurd for him to blame voter fraud for his 2016 loss of California, a state that hadn’t voted for a Republican for president since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Trump’s election falsehoods increasingly became focused on grievances.
As Trump faced reelection in 2020, he said Biden could win only if the election was rigged. Elections are administered in thousands of local areas nationwide, each with safeguards, making any attempt to "rig" a national election highly improbable.
Trump’s election result denial has poisoned many Americans’ views on voting, misleading the public about how elections are run. 
A December 2023 Washington Post/University of Maryland survey found that about one third of respondents believed there was solid evidence of widespread voter fraud in 2020. 
Gallup found before the 2022 midterms that most Americans were very confident or somewhat confident that the results would be accurately counted. Democrats were more than twice as confident as Republicans, representing the largest gap Gallup has recorded on this measure since 2004.
One week before the 2020 election, Trump said counting ballots for weeks after Election Day "is totally inappropriate, and I don't believe that's by our laws." However, most ballots are counted quickly; federal law allows states more than a month after the election to check their math, resolve disputes.
In the early morning hours after polls closed, Trump made the ridiculously premature declaration that he had won. Because the ballots were still being counted,  no one could say with any confidence whether Trump or Biden had won. Yet claims that Trump had won prompted Trump’s supporters— some armed— to gather outside of vote counting sites including in Philadelphia and Arizona’s Maricopa County, home to Phoenix.
Trump continued this theme over the next several weeks, telling his supporters of "surprise ballot dumps" and "massive fraud" that did not exist. He told his allies, "Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
More than 1,200 people have been charged in the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Court records show that some have said Trump told them to act. Whether Trump faces consequences for actions to subvert lawful election results remains to be seen in Fulton County, Georgia, and the federal courts.

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There is a long lineage that led us to the MAGAized GOP. As far as the disdain for empirical facts, let's recall this excerpt from Ron Suskind's profile of this century's other GOP WH:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again,…

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05 feb
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He is all symptom. Inevitably so. The cause should be obvious by now. I'll go into it again separately.

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