Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protesters hold "Arrest Trump" sign in DC

Activists hold a banner that read “Arrest Trump” during a protest in front of the Justice Department August 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

There Is No in Sight End to the Damage Trump's "Big Lie" Is Doing to Our Democracy

Trump has built a political army to reject the rule of law, attack our democracy, and undermine the American experiment in self-government that began more than 230 years ago. Enough.

Fred Wertheimer

 by Medium

We don’t know if former President Donald Trump ever studied Joseph Goebbels, but he certainly does practice Goebbels’ methods.

Goebbels was Germany’s Reich Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945. The concept of “The Big Lie” has been attributed to him as has this definition of it: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

Trump emerged on the national scene practicing The Big Lie when he became a leading voice of the birther movement, calling repeatedly, starting in 2011, for President Obama to produce a “long-form” birth certificate and promoting the lie that Obama was not born in the United States.

In 2016, Trump pivoted to a new lie, falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton was responsible for the Obama “birther” claim.

(Trump’s history of lying goes way back. In the early 1980s, Trump was lying about his wealth to improve his placement on the Forbes 400. Lying is, we have learned, his m.o.)

During his presidency, Trump functioned as a pathological liar, making 30,573 false or misleading claims, according to The Washington Post. And this was just a prelude to the biggest Big Lie in the history of American politics in terms of its impact on our democracy.

Months before the 2020 election, President Trump started claiming that the only way he could lose the presidential election was if it was “rigged.” From the minute it became clear that he had lost the election to this very day, Trump has been on an Orwellian path.

He used his claims that the presidency had been stolen from him to pursue various attempts to steal the presidency, culminating in the violent insurrectionist attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Trump has continued to perpetuate his Big Lie to the point that approximately 70 percent of Republicans believe Joe Biden is not the legitimate President. And what is perhaps most remarkable and most dangerous is the fact that Trump has achieved this demagogic result without a shred of evidence.

Trump has multiple purposes in continuing the Big Lie.

He apparently is working to set the stage to steal the election in 2024, should he run and lose again. His “stolen election” claim has helped keep his base fully on board and has created a national movement of “election denying” candidates who are seeking public office around the country.

A large number of these candidates have won Republican primaries, and, if successful in November, some will be in a position to play pivotal roles in administering the 2024 presidential election and to help steal the election for Trump if that becomes necessary.

Trump’s Big Lie also has had profound impact at the state level in serving as the pretense for a number of states to enact voter suppression and election sabotage laws that are intended to greatly tilt the electoral system to Republicans.

This week, we saw Trump incite his followers with yet another lie.

On Monday, FBI agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence after obtaining a judge-approved search warrant, seeking materials including, The Washington Post reports, classified documents relating to nuclear weapons.

Employing his long tradition of attacking anyone who challenges him, Trump suggested that the FBI agents could have planted evidence during the search. Once again, Trump was making a claim without a shred of evidence, while sowing doubt in the integrity of our nation’s law enforcement.

Trump’s Big Lie has undermined the confidence of tens of millions of Americans in the integrity of our elections and, ultimately, in our democracy.

Trump has built a political army to reject the rule of law, attack our democracy, and undermine the American experiment in self-government that began more than 230 years ago.

Trump must be held accountable for his transgressions against the American people.

© 2021 Medium
Fred Wertheimer

Fred Wertheimer

Fred Wertheimer is the founder and president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to promote government accountability and integrity.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'We Will Be on the Streets': Lula Vows Resolve as Brazil Heads Toward Runoff

"We don't have a break. We are going to work hard," said the leftist former president. "And we have 28 more days."

Jake Johnson ·

Brazil Votes Live: Lula Wins the First Round Over Far-Right Bolsonaro; Runoff Oct. 30

Lula took the lead as more rural votes counted but failed to reach 50%

Common Dreams staff ·

'Enough is Enough': Hundreds of Thousands March Across the UK

'As wages fall while profits soar, our message is clear... We are here to win.'

Common Dreams staff ·

California Gov. Newsom Proposes Windfall Profits Tax on Big Oil

Calls for windfall profits taxes have increased globally in recent weeks

Common Dreams staff ·

'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo