Just a short one today. A little while ago (days, weeks, it feels like years) Trump tweeted that his predecessor was wiretapping him. Despite the fact that everyone with any knowledge of the situation says that nothing like this happened at all, the White House still says they believe it, which is leading some people to wonder why on earth they keep doubling down on a ridiculous claim that they know is wrong. It really isn’t hard to see why.
Just after the inauguration Trump claimed he had the bigger crowds, and that he would have won the popular vote if we could ignore the millions of people that voted illegally. More ridiculous claims that everyone with any knowledge of the situation could immediately say were completely wrong. What consequences, if any, did Trump get for outright lying? There weren’t any at all. If anything, it probably served to move the goalposts, psychologically speaking. Whereas before we could say that Trump wasn’t really a legitimate president because he lost the popular vote, now there was a little piece of our brain saying that maybe he was right.
In short, Trump keeps lying because he can. Because there is no consequence, and maybe some benefit, to looking us right in the collective eye and lying through his teeth. Lying got him the presidency. What people don’t realize is that the purpose of lying isn’t just to get people to believe the lie, it’s to get people to be unsure about what the truth is. Gaslighting. Sure, we know that Obama didn’t wiretap Trump. But now we’re not entirely sure if someone was watching someone close to Trump. We question our own knowledge and instincts. Why does Trump do it? Because it works.