HOW LIARS WIN
Many years ago, I got involved with a man who was the most charming, effective liar I have ever met. My questionable taste in men aside, I did not know how utterly dishonest he was for quite a while because he was so good at it. And even when I began to figure it out, I still didn’t have an accurate barometer for each moment. Maybe what he’s saying right now is true, I’d think. After I threw him out of my home, I kept discovering more lies – a trail of damage and deception he’d left behind. It was as if he wasn’t completely gone, which is the first thing to understand about liars – they don’t leave easily.
I point that out as a cautionary assessment of what could happen in 2020 if we get lucky and Donald Trump loses the election. He might refuse to leave. With or without a Sharpie in hand, he might just spin out lie after lie about why he is the anointed president, the election be damned, and he’s going to park himself in the Oval Office with a month’s supply of Diet Coke. That’s one scenario the Founding Fathers didn’t think of. People who lie constantly live in their own manufactured world, which the rest of us are not familiar with, so we end up shaking our heads in confusion, waiting for someone else to figure out what to do.
Mike Pence stayed at the Trump property, Doonbeg, in Ireland, 140 miles from where his meetings were, and told us the State Department signed off on it. Did they really? Maybe they were just shell-shocked since nothing like this has ever happened before. Liars leave a lot of shell-shocked people in their wake. It’s one of the ways they get what they want.
One of the mistakes we make with consummate liars is, we try to make some kind of sense out of it. As in, Why would he say that when the truth is so much easier? Or, doesn’t it get exhausting to keep telling lie after lie? First of all, the truth is not easy for them. The real world is what’s hard. They are only safe, powerful, and in control when they are in their own made-up kingdom where everything revolves around them. And lying is not exhausting at all for them; it’s the instrument by which they can gravitate to this fabricated world – it’s like coming home.
The most dangerous consequence of being in the orbit of people who lie is, they exhaust you. We are all, as Americans, in Donald Trump’s orbit, and there is an increasing level of fatigue in this country brought on by the constant stream of dramas and lies. Even when something probably wasn’t a lie at first, this president turned it into one. It’s plausible that in the quickly changing forecasts for Hurricane Dorian, Trump did think Alabama was at risk. Maybe he misheard, maybe he looked at the map wrong. But admitting a mistake would have taken him out of his high-drama world and put him in the realm of real people who make mistakes. So, he inflated what was a minor misstep and, by some accounts, even broke the law by altering a National Weather Service map. But hey, he’s the center of his own (non) reality show, and that’s all he needs. He will go to any lengths to stay there.
There is a huge reason why we can’t let our collective exhaustion get the better of us: America can’t withstand four more years of Donald Trump. The planet can’t survive four more years of him. Maybe we could schedule some nap time, where we don’t hear about his tweets and his tantrums. A few hours every day – like a siesta. So we can keep in touch with the very real dramas that are happening in the real world.