Trump Is Still Lying, And The Truth Is Still Dying

The frequency and ease with which this President lies is, to say the least, alarming.

Earlier this week, the President marked his 558th day in office and the fact checkers at The Washington Post used that occasion to update its ongoing list of false and misleading statements the President has uttered since taking office:

Because of summer vacation schedules, we had fallen a month behind in updating The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.

It turns out that’s when the president decided to turn on the spigots of false and misleading claims. As of day 558, he’s made 4,229 Trumpian claims — an increase of 978 in just two months.

That’s an overall average of nearly 7.6 claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. But the average number of claims per day keeps climbing the longer Trump stays in office. In fact, in June and July, the president averaged 16 claims a day.

Our award-winning interactive graphic, created with the help of Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of The Washington Post’s graphics department, displays a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump. We have updated the graphic to allow readers to see the number of claims on a daily or monthly basis.

On July 5, the president reached a new daily high of 79 false and misleading claims. On a monthly basis, June and July rank in first and second place, with 532 and 446 claims, respectively.

Trump has a proclivity to repeat, over and over, many of his false or misleading statements. We’ve counted nearly 150 claims that the president has repeated at least three times, some with breathtaking frequency.

Almost one third of Trump’s claims — 1,293 — relate to economic issues, trade deals or jobs. He frequently takes credit for jobs created before he became president or company decisions with which he had no role. He cites his “incredible success” in terms of job growth, even though annual job growth under his presidency has been slower than the last five years of Barack Obama’s term.

Just on trade, the president has made 432 false or misleading claims. He frequently gets the size of trade deficits wrong or presents the numbers in a misleading fashion.

He also indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of economics. In June and July, more than 20 times the president said some variation of the claim that the United States “lost” money on trade deficits. Just about every economist would give a student an “F” for making such a statement.

A trade deficit simply means people in one country are buying more goods from another country than people in the second country are buying from the first. Trade deficits are also affected by macroeconomic factors, such as the relative strength of currencies, economic growth rates, and savings and investment rates.

Not surprisingly, immigration is the top single source of Trump’s misleading claims, now totaling 538. Thirty times just in the past five months, for instance, the president has falsely claimed his long-promised border wall with Mexico is being built, even though Congress has denied funding for it.

But moving up the list quickly are claims about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether people in the Trump campaign were in any way connected to it. The president has made 378 statements about the Russia probe, using hyperbolic claims of “worse than Watergate,” “McCarthyism” and, of course, “witch hunt.” He often asserts the Democrats colluded with the Russians, even though the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign were victims of Russian activities, as emails were hacked and then released via WikiLeaks. All told, nearly 160 times the president has made claims suggesting the Russia probe is made up, a hoax or a fraud.

Misleading claims about taxes — now at 336 — are also a common feature of Trump’s speeches. Eighty-eight times, he has made the false assertion that he passed the biggest tax cut in U.S. history.

On foreign policy, the president consistently misstates NATO spending. More than 60 times, he has falsely said the United States pays as much as 90 percent of the alliance’s costs and that other NATO members “owe” money. But he is conflating overall defense spending with NATO obligations — and the United States, unlike many NATO allies, has global responsibilities.”

At the rate of 7.6 lies per day, which is the average that Trump has run over the 558 days that the Post’s latest update covers, this would mean that the President would have told an extraordinary number of provable lies over the course of his Presidency. If he were to maintain this average over the course of his first term, for example, the President will have told roughly 11,111 lies in just four years in office. If this average were maintained over the course of eight years, it would mean roughly 22,222 lies between January 20th, 2017 and January 20th, 2025. While I’m as cynical as the next person when it comes to the tendency of politicians tell the truth, this is an extraordinary number of lies coming from one person and it’s arguably consistent with the type of person who either does not believe he is obliged to tell the truth or that he is simply so used to lying that it comes as easily to him as putting on a pair of shoes.

Given the extent to which he makes things up on the fly, whether it’s during one of his rallies, during an interview, or on Twitter, it’s hardly surprising that the President has faired so badly with the fact-checkers. From the start of his campaign, he’s made false and easily disproven claims about Mexicans and crime, about immigrants in general, about Muslims, and about policy issues ranging from international trade to foreign policy to history. Indeed, it can truly be said there are few politicians in American history who have been quite as skilled as Donald Trump when it comes to being able to lie so easily and so frequently. Additionally, the ease with which he does so makes it seem as though he believes what he’s saying, or that he simply doesn’t care if it’s true or not. It’s a skill he honed during the time he was considered a “celebrity” before becoming a Presidential candidate. Back then, of course, even his most obviously exaggerated claims about his own business success would be slavishly repeated by the media rather investigated to see if they were actually true. If Trump learned from that experience is that it largely did not matter if the claims he made were true or not. For the most part, the people reporting the “news” about Trump back then were not inclined to check just how much of what he said was true. Indeed, given the fact that it was his status as an ostentatious celebrity that caused the public to tune in or buy newspapers and magazines when they covered him, it was not in their interest to deflate him, but rather to build him up since the relationship between celebrities and the media that covers them is largely a symbiotic one where the media benefits by inflating the ego of the celebrity, and the celebrity benefits by letting the media cover him or her.

From these years, Trump no doubt learned the lesson that making things up didn’t really matter because the media wasn’t going to check anyway, and he has carried that lesson over to his political career. Things are a bit different when it comes to political reporters, of course, but the fact that Trump was, from the beginning such a high ratings draw for all the cable news outlets means that they were much less inclined to challenge his factual assertions lest he decide to issue one of the several “boycotts” that he’s engaged in over the course of the campaign. Those media outlets that have challenged him on the facts, such as The Des Moines Register, The Washington Post, and even Fox News Channel have found themselves subjected to one of Trump’s mercurial reprisal efforts.

Of course, the extent to which he is able to lie so brazenly has raised several questions about Trump’s psychology and mental state. I am not enough an expert in that field to make any specific judgments about Trump himself except to note that the lying, along with other aspects of his personality do not exactly speak very highly to the kind of person Donald Trump is at the core. In that regard, several words have been tossed around, including narcissist and many others. In the end, though, it seems fairly clear that liar fits just as well as anything else.

All that being said, Trump’s liberties with the truth, even when pointed out by the media, have not had much of an impact on his political fortunes. His die-hard supporters, quite obviously, don’t care about something as apparently trivial as the fact that the candidate they support is a proven liar, for example, and neither do the Republicans who have rallied behind him in the wake of his clinching of the nomination. Now, as we approach his first year and a half in office, all we can be sure of is that the lying will continue and his supporters will continue to not give a damn.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    As confirmed by our local cultie, the Bung, he knows, and presumably they all know, that Trump is a pathological liar. And they don’t care. They far prefer the enjoyable lie to a challenging reality. They have moved out of reality into cult space. It’s easier, their line of least resistance.

    The weak, the failing, the scared grab at whatever they think might help, even if just temporarily. It’s not a coincidence that vast numbers of white males in particular are suddenly discovering the joys of addictive drugs, meth and Trump are essentially the same thing: an analgesic for people too pitiful or too discouraged even to try any more. It’s self-annihilation via politics rather than alcohol or drugs.

    They’ve already passed the fun, party days when the drug was new and exciting. Now they’re in the phase where their family and friends are muttering warnings and organizing interventions and the drug effects are already attenuated. They know – as I think all addicts and culties do – that they’re in a death spiral and that they’ve done damage to all the things they once claimed to love, but most of them will go right down into the bunker and nod along enthusiastically as Der Führer moves non-existent divisions around on an obsolete map.

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  2. KM says:

    and his supporters will continue to not give a damn.

    Oh, they do more then that. They mindlessly cheer for every lie and bullshit nonsense that spills out of his mouth. FFS, they cheered when he said you needed ID for groceries! No matter how much they try to spin that comment, it’s still blatantly, utterly and completely untrue in a demonstrable way to every adult American but nope, thunderous applause. Unless you are insanely wealthy/stuck up / live completely off grid, you’ve bought groceries in a store at some point in your life – you *know* this is a lie. So why the seal routine? Why the blind acceptance and covering up for what was clearly false?

    Lately the alt-right and the QAnon people are getting pissy that they’re being referred to as a cult but come on, it’s one thing to tolerate a liar but it’s another to celebrate someone who tells you black is white and night is day.

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  3. MBunge says:

    What to know what “epistemic closure” is?

    It’s Mataconis posting about that instead of this…

    https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2018/08/01/details-chinese-spy-dianne-feinstein-san-francisco/

    …or a hundred other stories in the media this week.

    Eh. Who knows? Maybe things will turn out your way in November and maybe the ensuing Trump impeachment will turn out better for the impeachers than it did last time. Or maybe we can revisit this after Donald Trump’s 2nd inaugural address.

    Mike

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  4. Slugger says:

    In my opinion, which I have stated before, many of Trump’s statements are not intended as information, but they are transactional. When the salesman tells you that the price of a car is $27,ooo that is not a factual statement; it is an opening for negotiations. Whenever Trump says something we should ask ourselves what is the appropriate counteroffer to get what we want. Kim Il Jong figured out that being called “little rocket man” was not an insult but an invitation, and Kim got a slick deal as a result. Trump is less liar than dealmaker and not that good of a dealmaker; look at how much he paid for the favors of a pornstar or two.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MBunge:
    Have you gotten into QAnon yet? It’s a special sub-cult for only the most devoted and credulous of Cult Leader’s followers. I think if you make a dozen more inane comments here at OTB you might get an invite. I believe you get a special purple robe and a personalized Trump Kool-Aid mug!

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  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    Hey, mods, queue rescue please.

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  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    What has been the most striking to me, over the past 2 years, is how many exceptionally dumb people there are in this country. You read about Dennison University and you wonder how so many people could be taken by such an obvious fraud. Yet here we are. Dennison is running the greatest long-con in the history of the world…and 40% are falling for it. How do these people function day-to-day? Why are they allowed to breed?

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  8. Kylopod says:

    I am going to say something that may at first strike some people here as counter-intuitive: Trump is actually a very poor liar. Traditional politicians are usually better liars because they work harder to make their lies sound convincing, including attempting whenever possible to state things that may be technically accurate, even if misleading. A classic example is Bush’s remark at one of the 2004 presidential debates, when he justified going into Iraq by saying “The enemy attacked us.” He never stated outright that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks, so his statement could be sort of defensible on technical grounds–but it’s clearly what he was trying to imply.

    Most of Trump’s lies, in contrast, are transparently unconvincing, and he doesn’t even attempt to make them sound convincing. Indeed, he almost seems to go out of his way to make his lies sound as ridiculous as possible. I don’t know if he does it deliberately to test the limits of what he can get away with, or if he simply is so dumb it sounds convincing to him. Probably there’s an element of both.

    Now you might say I’m underestimating his talents, and that his utter brazenness is why he’s able to get so many people to accept his topsy-turvy version of reality. I would agree that a big part of the mass acceptance of his delusions has to do with his ability to nurture his cult of personality, something that most traditional politicians can’t do as effectively. But a big component of the ability of his lies to penetrate as far as they do is conservative media’s role in amplifying them. When he says that millions of illegals voted or that Obama wiretapped him or that Mueller is running a fake investigation, FOX and Breitbart and the rest help disseminate these views far and wide, and generally they’re a lot more sophisticated about it than Trump. He wouldn’t have anywhere near as much success getting people to believe him if he didn’t have these sources squarely in his pocket.

    Of course, that is to some extent something that he achieved. He got the right-wing media in his pocket by taking over the party. (When he first appeared on the political scene in mid-2015, FOX was a lot more skeptical toward him than they are now.) So there’s a certain chicken-and-egg dynamic. He’s a bad propagandist but a great cultist, and he’s used that position very effectively to create and nurture his alternate reality.

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  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    I met up with an old girlfriend whose father was a Marine Colonel, retired. Full Bird. And despite everyone telling him not to, he sent a huge amount of money to – and I am not making this up – a
    Nigerian prince. There’s just something that goes wrong in people’s heads, even people of reasonable IQ.

    Nietzsche had the Will to Power, this is the Will to Stupid. Yeah, as I’ve said before, this is what’s scary. It’s terrifying to wake up one day and realize you’re surrounded by zombies.

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  10. Gustopher says:

    @MBunge: Nice try on the whataboutism, but why aren’t you talking about crows having sex with the dead?

    Putting the Crow in Necrophilia

    Are you afraid? Have your Trumpist Leaders not yet told you how to think about the sexual perversions of birds? What’s the real reason you’re avoiding this topic?

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  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:
    Item 1) 5 years ago there was a spy on Feinsteins staff that investigators concluded hadn’t leaked anything of substance and Feinstein fired him.
    Item 2) Right now you, and people like you, are being conned by a pathological liar who was aided in gaining his office by an adversary of this nation. Said adversary continues to attack this nation, and the con-man-in-chief does nothing…and you, and people like you, think that’s the way it should be.
    Which of those two things do you think is more important to the health of the Republic?
    Jesus-gawd you are dumb.

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  12. Gustopher says:

    The “Trump Is Still A Liar” posts are getting repetitive. I swear I’ve read this exact one in the past.

    How about a different format? Rather than just the statistics, gather up a few of the most recent lies, invite others to post their favorite lies, and have a competition. Voting on the Lie Of The Week, and a hall of fame for the lies that get repeated week after week.

    Or just a periodic Trump Lies open thread, where all posts that don’t contain a Trump Lie are removed by the moderator.

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  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:

    What to know what “epistemic closure” is?

    Dennison could shit on your head, and you would say it is a blessing.
    That’s “epistemic closure”.

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  14. James Pearce says:

    As of day 558, he’s made 4,229 Trumpian claims — an increase of 978 in just two months.

    Closer to the tipping point, I guess.

    Do we win something when he gets to 5000?

    @Michael Reynolds:

    that Trump is a pathological liar. And they don’t care.

    It’s true, they don’t. Over the past two years, I’ve often asked myself why. Why don’t they care that the president is a liar?

    The hypothesis most often heard is that they’re just bad people. They’re racist or sexist or some other deplorable thing.

    I don’t think that’s the case. It seems to me that they’ve made a deliberate choice to focus on results and ignore all the BS. If letting Russians influence our election means they get judges and tax cuts, well, it’s a price and they will pay it.

    We should be trying to dissuade them from making such stupid trade-offs, but where is that effort?

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  15. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:

    I do like the idea of a thread where we could compete to see which of us came up with the best Trump lie. It would replace the late lamented Caption Contest.

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  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MBunge: So much winning! And yet so much hostility; what’s your soul telling you that you don’t want to hear, Mike?

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  17. Joe says:

    Daryl and his brother Darryl tells us that

    You read about Dennison University and . . .

    but I feel compelled to clarify that you can read about Denison University, a very fine liberal arts college in Northern Ohio that graduated a very good friend of mine.

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  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce:

    It seems to me that they’ve made a deliberate choice to focus on results and ignore all the BS.

    So, we are back to delusional, then. Good to know.

    (I promise I will not feed the troll again this thread.)

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  19. Kathy says:

    IMO, the reasons part or all of his base trust El Cheeto are:

    1) They believe he’s not lying about the wall, which can be confirmed with his hostile and inhumane attitude towards immigrants. Or about the media (and that’s dangerous). Or about trade deficits being bad, even if he misstates the actual amount. and so on.

    2) He gives voice, action, and respectability to their prejudices, and doesn’t scold them if some don’t match his prejudices.

    You know, for all the contempt about norms, here’s one: The US armed forces respect civilian authority and have never staged a rebellion. I wonder if that will ever change.

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  20. Mikey says:

    @MBunge:

    What to know what “epistemic closure” is?

    I just looked it up in the encyclopedia, and what do you know, it has your picture!

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  21. grumpy realist says:

    @Kylopod: It’s probably the same filtering mechanism that occurs with the Nigerian spam mail, where the senders include deliberate mistakes to weed out the intelligent to leave behind the totally gullible and dumb, who the scammers know can be taken for all they’re worth.

    Trump doesn’t do this deliberately, but the result is the same–those with horse sense listen to him, think “what a fruitcake”, and walk away. The only ones left are the gullible and clueless. Probably why they haven’t succeeded that much in life and why they’re such suckers for any carnival barker telling them It’s Not Their Fault they never got anywhere in life.

    One of my friends has ended up falling down the Trump rabbit hole and I’ve given up on salvaging him from the wreckage. Sometimes people really do have to fall off cliffs and hit bottom before they admit this was A Really Bad Idea.

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  22. Kylopod says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Sometimes people really do have to fall off cliffs and hit bottom before they admit this was A Really Bad Idea.

    I sincerely hope your friend finds his way back, but I have my doubts the vast majority of Trumpists will ever admit they made a boo-boo.

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  23. mike shupp says:

    @James Pearce:

    Hmm. I’ve seen a bunch of right-wing websites in the last couple of years. They don’t post a lot about getting judges and tax cuts and how that’s worth a few Russians. They focus on school principals who send little boys home for wearing blue jeans rather than pink on “Albert Elementary School Diversity Day.” They talk about left wingers who threaten the families of conservative politicians. They talk about Democrats lying about “You can keep your insurance” and Obama’s billion dollar deficits. They’ve all got stories about the time a guy with a gun shot down some maniac who was shooting at other people.

    And so on and so on and so on. There is NO point where someone like you or I might break in and say “Your logic is flawed,” or “There’s history here which you’re ignoring,” or whatever. There is simply a continual scream about GRIEVANCE GRIEVANCE GRIEVANCE, every bit of which is due to evil left wingers, fastening down on the jugglar vein of this once great nation like Dracula slavering drool on one of his victims.

    Logic doesn’t work anymore.

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  24. Todd says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I am very reluctant to call Trump supporters “dumb”. I know way too many otherwise intelligent and even kind, caring (in pretty much all other aspects of their lives) individuals who are none-the-less fully on board the Trump train. My brother and several neighbors who I have regular get togethers with fit in that category.

    The only logical explanation I can come up with is that they stumbled upon the wrong website, tv or radio station to many times and something just stuck; rewiring their brains in the process.

    Sometimes I feel like this could have very easily been me. Back in the middle 2000s when I lived in Hawaii, I had over an hour commute on the way home every day, so out of pure boredom I would often listen to talk radio (Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved). Thankfully I decided most of it was pure bullshit and just chalked it up to forming the habit of “knowing what those who think differently are talking about”. I still do that to this day (regular visits to and link clicking on Drudge).

    I think Trump supporters are certainly misguided, and a good percentage of them really are evil. But I’m not so positive that all of them are necessarily as dumb as we’d like to think they are.

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  25. Todd says:

    p.s. here’s a (likely unpopular) truth:

    Every single one of us currently believes (sometimes passionately) at least a few things that are objectively not true.

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  26. Todd says:

    All that being said, I almost hung up on my brother when he wouldn’t even agree that Donald Trump tells blatant easily disprovable lies on a very regular basis … apparently this is something “the liberal media” has just convinced me of … very unfairly to Trump. lol

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  27. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce:

    It seems to me that they’ve made a deliberate choice to focus on results and ignore all the BS.

    Oh, I see what you did there! You are a tricksy one, Mr. Pearce!

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  28. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: See, Pearce has gone through this cycle a number of times. He does all of his tricksy reverse-psychology Trump pumping until lots of people start suspecting him. Then he shifts for a week or so and mostly comments on things that have nothing to do with Trump. Just when people are saying “hmm, maybe he isn’t really a Trumpoid after all…” he starts to sneak his BS back in.

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  29. Jax says:

    @MarkedMan: Pearce, for what it’s worth, is absolutely correct on this. I live in Wyoming, and I have conversations with people on the Trump Train EVERY day. I know them to be (for the most part) good, honest people who would give you the shirts off their backs. They are also completely willing to ignore all of his lies, all of his cheating, all of the horrible things he says, as long as the economy stays good. If the economy goes off the rails, they’ll start considering heaven again. Until then, the Pope is the Antichrist, and Trump is Baby Jesus come back to save us from the “leftist” Pope. We have limited amounts of outside news around here, so they are brainwashed by what they can pick up on AM radio and Fox News. There are no amounts of facts I can put in front of them that will change their minds.

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  30. JohnMcC says:

    @MBunge: Ever liberal and wanting to actually read whatever idiocy your link led to before assuming perhaps stupidity or villainy on your part, I read the story.

    It said “Feinstein…was reportedly mortified when the FBI told her….” And “Investigators reportedly concluded the driver hadn’t leaked anything of value and Feinstein forced him to retire.”

    So I concluded both stupidity and villainy fit your comment like a glove.

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  31. Todd says:

    @James Pearce:

    We should be trying to dissuade them from making such stupid trade-offs, but where is that effort?

    I have to disagree on this. At this point in time, Trump’s hard-core supporters are beyond persuasion.

    What rational people need to be doing is to seek out and interact with other like-minded people to collaborate on positive ways to effect change.

    Arguing with those who make irrational choices and believe irrational things is worse than a waste of time. It serves no useful purpose and just distracts from actions that could make a difference.

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  32. Kylopod says:

    @Todd:

    I am very reluctant to call Trump supporters “dumb”. I know way too many otherwise intelligent and even kind, caring (in pretty much all other aspects of their lives) individuals who are none-the-less fully on board the Trump train.

    I agree 100%, and I’ve had similar experiences. I guess it depends on where you live, what family you come from, or what your social circles are.

    In a way, it’s worse than if all those people were dumb. Once you realize that kind and even intelligent people have hitched themselves to such a monstrous president, so completely and obviously unfit for the office, it’s hard not to fall into a despairing cynicism. Dumb people you can forgive because they can’t help being dumb. The fact that some of Trump’s supporters are actually people who could and should know better reflects something much deeper and sicker about us as a society.

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  33. grumpy realist says:

    @Todd: Very much like the ultra-Brexiter response to Brexit problems, in other words. Any words of warning from trade unions, people specialised in EU regulations, companies with UK/EU JIT processes, etc–all of that is hand waved away as “Project Fear.” Somehow everything is supposed to work wonderfully on The Big Day, just Because.

    (Note: I’ve noticed the Brits are worse than the U.S when it comes to making sure you don’t have dysfunctional systems in place. Some of the tragedies that occur–like Grenfall–are as awful as the Triangle Fire in NYC–but are still occurring in the modern age. Trying to double-check systems to they work properly in emergencies doesn’t seem to be a British thing.)

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