Hypocrisy

Back in the 80s after the election of Ronald Reagan there was an often-repeated logic that made the rounds of public discourse, wandering out of mouths left-side and right-side alike. The basic drift: “Republicans may be full of crap, but the Democrats are hypocrites. And there’s nothing worse than a hypocrite.” I suspect that logic was conceived in a conservative think tank somewhere and found purchase with a lot of people.

To some extent, perhaps, hypocrisy is a bit of a natural in politics. To the extent that parties seek to grow their tent by gathering a disparate array of coalitions whose values may be diametrically opposed, they end up making diametrically opposed promises which, no matter how sincerely offered, become nearly impossible to maintain indefinitely. Eventually some priority propels one set of convictions over another and charges of hypocrisy and betrayal fly.

But Trump elevates hypocrisy to what may be its most distilled form: declaring with conviction and superlatives something on day #1 which he then denies with greater ferver on day #2. “Lying,” observes Masha Gessen, “is the message. It’s not just that both Putin and Trump lie, it is that they lie in the same way and for the same purpose: blatantly, to assert power over truth itself.” (http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/12/13/putin-paradigm-how-trump-will-rule/)

Long before Trump was rigging reality in D.C. the Republican party, aided and abetted by Fox News and its legions of feeder media cells, blogger sites, and evidence-defying chat rooms, made hypocrisy one of its central pillars.

Trump is, if anything, the distillation of Conservative values and actions in clown car caricature form. Since the clarion call against Democratic Party hypocrisy in the 80s the Republican party and by extension the Conservative movement indulge hypocrisy as their core defining means of communication.

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