Deception: the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid.
To quote a line from one of my favorite movies, “so this is how democracy dies… to thunderous applause”. This is the thought that went through my head as I watched Trump supporters rally in Melbourne, Florida this weekend. The crowds cheered their fearless leader as he took the stage and at the same time jeered on looking media who Trump just hours before labeled as the “enemy of the American people”. No one in the crowed seemed to be bother by the fact that just one day earlier FBI Director James Comey met with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a secured location deep in the basement of the U.S. Capital to brief them on the FBI’s investigation into the connections between the Trump administration and Russian intelligence officials.
Director Comey met with Senators for over three hours and reportedly detailed evidence which suggested a possible conspiracy related to the American presidential election. Whatever details Comey discussed with the Senators behind closed doors is uncertain, but what is clear is that immediately after the closed door session ended Republican Senators like Marco Rubio who were once avoiding discussing the possibility of an investigation now publicly came out in favor of one. Rubio tweeted that he is confident that the Senate Intelligence Committee will investigate Russia’s interference into the American presidential election. This, in my opinion, is absolutely stunning and suggests that whatever information was shared with the Senators behind closed doors was enough to force some of them to change their position on the Trump/Russian investigation.
But despite the FBI’s investigation and the fact that Republican members of Congress are now publicly calling for an investigation – despite the fact that Republican Senator John McCain recently criticized Trump and said his attack on the press is “how dictatorships start” – Trump’s fanatic sycophant supporters are not backing down. It is apparent that many of these people have accepted and totally immersed themselves in the “alternative facts” being propagated by the Trump administration and have decided to ignore real and credible information.
But this isn’t something that we should be surprised by. After all, history has shown us that people are susceptible to succumbing to deception and manipulation of all sorts. From the millions of Germans who elected Hitler to power and turned a blind eye to the Jewish persecution, to the Russians who watched Stalin kill millions of dissenters in Siberia – dictators have always somehow managed to find a fan base of support and doting saps who are more than willing to rationalize their brutality.
To most of us, the notion of being deceived or manipulated is often something we think of as happening to other people and not ourselves. Most people have a tendency to believe that they are impervious to being influenced or controlled by others. However, history has shown us the opposite. Examples of the past prove that for the most part people are malleable and easily lead astray if circumstanced and conditions are right. Rarely do the better angles of our nature succeed in overcoming the darkness of negativity and trickery.
Occasionally in the business of governance, feelings of discontent, anger and disillusionment become pervasive at times and have a propensity of becoming commonplace. Unfortunately, during these difficult times in history there are always menacing figures who look to exploit these emotions for their own personal gain through the consolidation of power or material possessions. It is up to us as individuals to constantly be on guard and defend ourselves against tyrants such as these. The only way we accomplish this is by educating ourselves, understanding history and knowing what sign to look for. Edmund Burke once famously said, “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. Sadly, many Trump supporters these days have relinquished their freewill and are gleefully following the direction of a tyrant in the making, and in the process damming us all to repeat evils of history once forgotten.