Observations of an ex pat: Fact Checking

Donald Trump takes a reverse scientific approach to issues. He searches for the voters greatest fears; enunciates them in the most dramatic and divisive language possible; and then twists and invents facts and re-invents history to support his claims.

Some might say, so what? Isn’t that what every politician does?  Yes, but the President of the United States has taken the practice to an entirely new level, and in doing so has undermined a political class which was already standing on crumbling foundations.  The Washington Post, which keeps a tally of presidential lies, reported in his first 601 days of his presidency, Donald Trump lied or made misleading statements 5,000 times.

You would have thought that the Donald could have temporarily broken himself of this nasty habit when addressing the nation from behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.  Wrong.  Instead, his televised speech justifying the government shutdown and a demand for a southern border wall was possibly the best example yet of Donald Trump’s inability to speak the truth.

First off, there was no justification to use the tool of a televised address to the nation. There is no crisis. America is not being invaded. Terrorists are not flooding across US-Mexico border. These fears were manufactured by Donald Trump to insure his election to the White House and they are now being exaggerated to keep him there.

Trump is using the oldest political trick in the world. When in trouble create a crisis. Create an enemy. Offer a solution, the more expensive and grander the better. Trump’s crisis is the “invasion” from the south. The enemies are the Democrats, Hispanics and anyone who has a wish to live and work in the United States. The solution is a visible wall which Trump can point to and say: “See, look, there it is, the wall, I did something that no other president would.”.

Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush may have been justified in declaring a national emergency back in 2000 when they exchanged tenancies on the White House.  In that year 1.6 million people were arrested trying to cross into the United States from Mexico. Trump said that his predecessors did in fact tell him that they wished they had built the wall he proposes. The deny this. A lie.

The number crossing the border in 2016—303,916 was nowhere near the level 18 years ago. And building a wall will not resolve illegal alien problem because the largest category of illegal aliens is those who have overstayed their visas—629,000 in 2015, according to the latest figures from the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump claims the wall would also be a barrier against drugs. It is true that most of the heroin, cocaine, and marijuana that enters the United States comes through Mexico. It is another lie that the wall would stop it. Again, according to US government statistics, 90 percent of the drugs are smuggled through legal points of entry.

What about the rapists, murderers and terrorists flooding northwards?  A large proportion of Hispanics settle in Texas, whose state police department report that the arrest rate of illegal immigrants was 40 percent below that of native-born Americans.  Immigrants—especially illegal immigrants—know that if they break the law they will be deported and their American dream ends.

As for terrorists,  the CATO Institute reported that from 1975 through 2017, seven people who entered the U.S. illegally from “special interest” countries — states tied at least loosely to terrorism — were convicted of planning attacks on U.S. soil. None crossed from Mexico.

For the supporters of Donald Trump, belief in the president is more of a religious experience than a political one.  They accept the word of Trump as literal truth because it reflects their fears.  But perhaps, just perhaps, if the fact checkers keep chipping away at the wall of lies, support for Trump will totter and, eventually, crumble.


* Tom Arms is a Wandsworth Lib Dem and produces and presents the podcast www.lookaheadnews.com

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  • John Marriott 11th Jan '19 - 4:27pm

    They say that, when you are in trouble, you need to manufacture a crisis, which is what the President appears to have done. What really gets me is how he is prepared to put people’s livelihoods in danger to get what he wants.

  • I do not think the supporters of Trump all believe that everything they hear him say is true. In fact they believe that no politicians tell the truth. But Trump is speaking a language they understand. He is saying things that they believe. To many the more outrageous the better.

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