Saturday, October 29, 2022

A Political Party Unhinged From Truth

It took months of reporting before I fully appreciated the pervasiveness of the Big Lie. As I came to learn, the hallucinatory claim that a grand if largely unnamed conspiracy managed to snatch victory away from Trump and hand it to Joe Biden is not a trivial, stand-alone falsehood. Instead, it has become as central to the MAGA belief system as the crucifixion of Jesus is to Christianity. It affirms the martyrdom of their revered leader as well as the incorrigibility of his persecutors. Furthermore, it encourages the belief that the former president’s imagined adversaries across the globe have colluded with domestic malefactors to undermine all manner of American liberties. In these fevered scenarios, Venezuela and South Korea have corrupted our electoral ballots, China has implanted COVID vaccines with mind-control devices, and liberal Jewish billionaires like George Soros have underwritten acts of domestic terrorism. I attended a two-day ReAwaken America convention of right-wing influencers earlier this year at a Phoenix megachurch in which each of these claims was uttered from the stage, to more than 3,000 attendees. And I’m sorry to report that those conspiracy theories were not even the craziest I heard at the convention.

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