Biden's Truth Test: How to Defeat Trump's "Stab-in-the-Back," "Lost Cause" Big Lie
In his inaugural address, President Joe Biden declared that "Democracy has prevailed," just two weeks after Donald Trump incited an insurrectionist mob to storm the Capitol in a clumsy but violent bid to overturn the election.
The applause line, clearly written for the history books, succinctly captured the themes of national unity and wizened optimism the new president sounded on Inauguration Day -- but it was another, brief section of Biden's speech that reflected the most consequential, long-range political problem he faces:
"Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson.
There is truth and there are lies.
Lies told for power and for profit.
And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders -- leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation -- to defend the truth and to defeat the lies."
For while Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris now face the most immense agenda of interlocking crises to confront any new president, at least since FDR -- a raging pandemic, a crippled economy, raw racial divisions and, oh yeah, the climate crisis -- the most vexing political matter that confronts them is a nation divided into two realities - one, fact-based and the other, a fantasy.
After a four-year term in which he instructed his supporters to disbelieve any source of information except him, while telling more than 30,000 documented lies, Trump spent the two-and-a-half months after losing the election incessantly insisting that he had won -- by "a landslide" no less - exhorting his tens of millions of loyalists not to accept the results because Biden had "stolen" the presidency via massive voter fraud.
Enabled and supported in the claim by spineless or simpleminded Republican officeholders, Trump repeated his Big Lie endlessly, in the manner of authoritarians throughout history. Like white supremacists in the American South, who rolled back Reconstruction as they constructed the false narrative of the "Lost Cause," or Hitler, who came to power by maintaining Germany had not been defeated in World War I, but "stabbed in the back" by a cabal of liberals, socialist, communists and Jews, Trump effectively created an alternate reality, a delusion fashioned to maintain indefinitely unquestioned devotion to him and simmering, toxic grievance against his political foes.
New polling shows seven in 10 Republicans, and one in three Americans, believe the lie and do not accept the legitimacy of Biden's presidency, an obdurate and intractable obstacle poised to resist bitterly his calls for "unity" and "healing," no matter how lyrical, and doubtless large portions of his policy prescriptions as well.
Today, Phil Trounstine returns for a wide-ranging discussion with his Calbuzz co-founder of this "death of truth" moment in American politics, along with analysis of Biden's Inaugural address, Harris' history-making day, the huge role that Californians now play in Washington -- along with critiques of Lady Gaga's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, Jennifer Lopez's singular performance of "This Land is Your Land" and the astonishing delivery of 22-year old inaugural poet Amanda Gorman.
It's all here, right now on Newsmakers TV.
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Images: Joe Biden congratulates Kamala Harris after her swearing-in as Vice President (amny.com); New Yorker cartoon by Ward Sutton.