On one side of the divide, there are about 74 million people. They believe our government is crooked, drain the swamp, the election was rigged, etc. We need to Make America Great Again.
On the other side of the divide, there are about 81 million people. They believe our government is not crooked and there is no evidence of widespread corruption. They believe our Constitution with its judicial system was well planned and it protects us from the rare incidences of corruption. America is already great.
For the most part, America’s big divide is simply whether you believe our government IS or IS NOT crooked. But we didn’t get divided overnight. Statements inferring our government is crooked have been pushed by the conservative media for forty years. Today, there are generations that have heard nothing but partisan views. In 2015, a Gallup Poll revealed the number of Americans that believe our government is crooked reached an all-time high of 75%. In that same year, our former president entered the race. Many of his talking points like crooked Hillary, drain the swamp, and MAGA fit right into what many already believed. The idea that “our government is crooked” has been said many ways and many times. This is America’s big lie.
In 1860, Isabella Blagden wrote about the danger of a big lie. She said, “… repeated often enough, it (a lie) becomes an article of belief, a dogma, and men will die for it.” The “Big Lie” theory simply stated is, if you tell a lie often enough and loud enough, people will believe it. Her words have been proven many times.
Joseph Goebbels’ Big Lie theory was used by Nazi Germany in the 1930s. In the 70s, Jim Jones convinced faithful followers he was the messiah and blind faith led 900 followers to commit suicide. In 2003, President Bush convinced Americans Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which led to an invasion that killed 100,000 people. But eight years later the informant said he lied. So-called witches have been burned and people have been hung in the name of God and country because people believed lies.
Most recently, people died because our former president said the election was rigged. Although the evidence is very clear that the election was not rigged, will more people die because of this big lie? And, the big question, how long will it take for his advocates to accept the evidence, the facts, the proof?
Carl Sagan wrote a likely answer in a book in 1996. “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”