Lies We’re Constantly Told, Colltalers
Americans decrying the apparent ‘normalization of lying’ they see the U.S. presidential campaign spearheading, may be concerned out of the damage already inflicted to our collective moral compass. But what they perceive as a domestic phenomenon is clearly a global trend.
While they’re right to demand restoring integrity to the political discourse – and good luck with that -, what’s going on in Latin America and Europe has long extrapolated your garden variety expedience by candidates to public office, to what’s now unavoidable for getting elected.
To be sure, there are fundamental differences in the tactics employed by, say, the right wing coalition that ousted Brazil’s president, or sold the British into exiting the European Union, and the religious politics used to convince Colombians that peace can wait another 50 years.
Fingerprints of a resurgent radical nationalism have always been all over Europe’s politics, usually backing clamors for border tightening and refugee scapegoating. Many see these as neither new nor happening in some vacuum caused by the continent’s toothless democracies.
And it’s also familiar how a growing contingent of the underprivileged, the excluded, and the downright dispossessed, would break ranks, choose to support the policies of the dominant elite, and join in the fight against other impoverished crowds, who only differ from them in basic racial and religious markers. In other words, the current era just found an excuse to reawaken old, and not quite dormant, sentiments.
That politics is dirty, and politicians lie should shock no one not living underground for the past, well, ever. But even psychopathic leaders may unwittingly help usher progressive change, and we take that as long as they’re prevented from using it to consolidate power.
But when critical thinking is hijacked from the collective mind, and a candidate is hailed for trading into chaotic, disastrous times, despite evidence pointing to the contrary, then the problem may er lie elsewhere. Specially if the media volunteers a Greek chorus to chant along.
Verging on insult, matters are made even worst when, in the aftermath of a whole campaign of baseless alarmist claims and fuzzy math, the proponents of such irresponsible views simply abandon, or get dropped from, the rudderless ship, as it happened with Brexit.
Months after one of the most misguided referendums to succeed in tapping public discontent to serve a hidden agenda, their original leaders are already on to better (for them)
things, and find no particular allegiance, or face accountability, to the rotten process they’ve ignited.
While Brits who voted for the exit of the U.K. from the E.U. can’t be excused or allege ignorance in voting for a measure they now regret, the uncertainty it’s still responsibility of those who stood to profit politically from it, even if they seem too incompetent to manage even that.
No matter. It’s the so-called common people who’ll be footing the bill for the delusional adventure, despite efforts by a new leadership to find the sense of it all, even if they too, benefited from that momentary lack of reason, and are likely to be spared from its costs.
What happened last August to Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff, and in 2012, to Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo, serves as twin text cases, showing how relatively easy it is to manipulate public dissatisfaction to serve a corrupt, hidden agenda. And get away with it.
Both leaders fell victim to a political conspiracy, a legislative coup, orchestrated by a cast of secondary characters, whose true nature was all but evident from the start, even as claiming they were on the side of ‘public decency.’ Now safely ensconced in power, they can even afford to tell the truth, with no fear of consequences. The current Brazilian chief admitted that much in a New York press conference last month.
Colombia now seems to have inscribed itself in this embarrassing row of nations whose apparent majority was manipulated to support a decision that’s bound to keep hurting it, long after the religious right, which pulled the strings for that to happen, has sucked all political capital it was seeking to gain in the first place. And the Nobel Peace prize given to president Juan Manuel Santos didn’t help it either.
Despite the Swedish committee affirming that it was a ‘tribute to the Colombian people,’ seasoned Latin American analysts called it premature, one-sided, and ill-timed, if the aim was really to support a permanent peace agreement with the country’s hardened guerrillas.
As it stands, the president gets to nicely keep his award, but Colombia’s society is thrown into a crippling lack of confidence that the conflict will be ever resolved. Meanwhile, conservative forces are already moving in to occupy the vacuum generated by the failed referendum.
Which brings us back to American politics, and the rise of such an unrestrained ‘truther,’ who’s used every trick in the book without being seriously confronted, or even questioned by his party, for his outrageously conflicting statements. And this comes from a lowly observer, if not in any way undecided. For let’s face it, at this point, there are one too many corroborated examples to render such charge impartial.
Not that it’s what’s really important, of course. Regardless how even Trump supporters feel about reality, or some form of alternate version of it, there are views and then there are facts, and while the former can be many and ever changing, the latter admit no revisions.
For the Republican candidate did say what he said, and it’s unbelievable that anyone has to iron that point every time he denies it. On the other hand, although his opponent, Clinton, is known to shape her political narrative to fit a manufactured profile, nothing that she’s said, even when contradicting herself, has the same vitriolic quality that Trump seems to exude. And thick skin to never back down from it.
There’s no need to engage into a point-by-point discussion of both candidates’ platform, and when and how often they failed to offer a coherent picture. But even within the realm of false equivalences, the rate of offensive, racist, dangerous, and clearly clueless, recorded declarations, is simply too massively slanted toward Trump over Clinton. And that’s a fact. Then again, facts get a bad rap these days.
We should be concerned about that, but it’s even more important to recognize when facts get trampled to the benefit of a good story, full of potential soundbites and calls for action. When that happens, conspirators cleverly hide behind the atmosphere of arresting enthusiasm.
It happened in South America, and some say, it never stopped happening in Europe. The explosion of undeclared wars, free reign on foreign policy by Washington or Kremlin hawks, and staggering gaps in social equality, may be the main causes for the world to slip too fast and so tragically into carnage and the rule of the bigger gun. But make no mistake: there are those who stand to benefit from our misery.
They used a well-tested strategy adopted since the time Christopher Columbus sailed the conquering sea, possibly 524 years ago this week, give or take a few territories that would be annexed to the general banner of America. It’s a narrative powerfully endowed by tales of dare and bravery, and even if they are likely fake, they can’t be revised. Only a new account, written as we speak and live through it, could.
Just because it happened then, and it happens now, and it may be ever part of future geopolitics, we can still add a new element this time around: the proven truth, based on verifiable facts. And we need to be redundant here: there shouldn’t be any arguments about that.
The campaign for U.S. president has been a heartbreaking attempt to slay reality, an embarrassing freak fest, but the world still count on us to imbue it with some form of decency. Now and in the following weeks, we have a chance to do just that. Enjoy the Columbus break. WC