The Political Party of the Big Lie
BY RICHARD C. GROSS
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Hamlet,” Act 1, Scene IV
The boy who cried wolf would feel right at home in the Republican Party.
The lying, the hypocrisy is staggering in their audacity, in the capacity of many Republicans to act without conscience, without shame, without honor. They are violating trust and belief in a political system that is a cornerstone of our democracy, altering the way the country defines integrity and truth.
This and voter suppression and supporting the country’s liar in chief, a former president, no less — are pulling down the morals, ethical standards and ideals of America.
The Republicans make up a major political party, one of only two — the party of Abraham Lincoln’s antislavery party — not some fringe group preaching antigovernment conspiracies. But that’s what it’s become — the party of the Big Lie.
The big one, of course, among the 30,473 Donald Trump told during four years, according to The Washington Post, is that the Nov. 3 election was “stolen” from him.
“You have to lie to qualify to be a Republican,” New York Times columnist David Brooks, a conservative Republican, said on the PBS NewsHour Friday.
The lies show up in everything from claiming Trump beat Joe Biden for the presidency; to restricting and complicating voting that will impinge most heavily on minorities while justifying it by saying it will eliminate fraud when there is no fraud; to seeking to demote a member of the House for disagreeing about the election’s outcome and voting to impeach Trump; and to taking credit for a provision of a Democratic-adopted pandemic relief package that all Republicans voted against.
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it,” Adolf Hitler wrote in his “Mein Kampf.” There no evidence Nazi propaganda guru Joseph Goebbels applied this aphorism, according to the Jewish Virtual Library.
It said the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA, described Hitler’s use of the big lie, in part: “His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong.”
Consider: Republican-led legislatures in Georgia then Florida adopted laws, and Texas is working on similar statutes, making it more difficult to vote by mail, including limiting the use of drop boxes.
Yet Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, told “Fox & Friends,” “Your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency, and this is a great place for democracy.”
But there mostly has been integrity in casting a ballot in this country. How can Florida be a “great place for democracy” if it limits voting?
“This blatant voter suppression is Jim Crow 2.0 and will make it harder for voters — from low-income rural white communities to the elderly to communities of color — to have their voices heard,” state Sen. Shevrin Jones, of parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, said in a statement.
“This is DeSantis bringing home the little dead mouse in his teeth for Papa Trump to see,” the Post quoted Joy Howell, spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County Democratic Party. Trump lives in Palm Beach.
Consider: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Jan. 13, seven days after the storming of the Capitol: “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.”
But McCarthy changed his tune and has gone to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump’s ring. He is at the forefront of Republican attempts to demote Rep. Liz Cheney from her position as the party’s Conference Chair because she voted with nine other Republicans to impeach the former president. The vindictive Trump slaps a scarlet letter “T” on whoever wrongs him.
Yet Republicans have whined repeatedly about “cancel culture” being used against conservatives. Is Cheney not being canceled?
“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” Cheney wrote in an opinion piece in the Post.
Consider: Not a single Republican voted for Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief legislation. That didn’t stop GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of upstate New York from hailing as her achievement more than $3.7 million from the bill that was earmarked for her district’s community health centers, according to the AP.
“These grants were among the 9% of funds dedicated to COVID-19 relief that I always was in support of,” she said in a statement. “Regardless of any particular vote, I’m going to help individuals, small businesses and nonprofit organizations get funding they are entitled to.”
She voted against it but said she supported it? Huh?
How will they get that funding if she continues to vote against Democratic-promoted relief legislation? Just continue to take credit for something she did not do? Oh, the hypocrisy.
The boy who cried wolf did so one too many times until the villagers refused to heed his last call for help. The wolf came and ate many of his sheep. Liars beware.
Richard C. Gross, a correspondent, bureau chief and foreign editor for United Press International, retired as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.