There are two camps of Republicans, says Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for ex-President George W. Bush: “suckers” who fell for ex-president Donald Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 general election and “liars” who profit from promoting them.
“To be a loyal Republican, one must be either a sucker or a liar,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
“And because this defining falsehood (about the election) is so obviously and laughably false, we can safely assume that most Republican leaders who embrace it fall into the second category,” he continued. “Knowingly repeating a lie — an act of immorality — is now the evidence of Republican fidelity.”
While Trump’s conspiracy theories aren’t “the moral equivalent of fascist propaganda,” they constitute a “founding lie” that is “intended to remove followers from the messy world of facts and evidence.”
“It is designed to replace critical judgment with personal loyalty. It is supposed to encourage distrust of every source of social authority opposed to the leader’s shifting will,” he observed.
The result, he said, pointing to the storming of the United States Capitol on January 6, was a group of followers who seemed “quite sincere” in their belief that the election was stolen despite a lack of any verifiable evidence.
Whether Trump actually believes his own lies remains to be seen: “When a congenital liar surrounds himself with sycophantic liars, he can easily lose radio contact with reality,” he said, adding that Republican politicians who have embraced these lies “have the most to atone for.”