Jesse Robison

Jesse Robison

What is truth, and does it still matter in American politics? The dictionary defines truth as a verified or indisputable fact, proposition or principle. Many humans once believed the world was flat until it was subsequently determined to be round. However, that isn’t accurate; the planet is essentially an ellipsoid because its diameter at the equator is greater than the North and South poles by approximately 43 kilometers. Truth can change when we gain more knowledge.

Ascertaining the truth can be challenging in our legal system because there are times when facts are hotly disputed. Judges and juries are tasked with determining the truth in these instances, but “singular” fact finders don’t always get it right.

The potential for error always exists, and Trump’s representatives filed over 60 lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results in 2020 due to alleged voter fraud. He lost all but one minor case (not involving fraud) that had no impact on his defeat in Pennsylvania. Some judges adversely ruling against Trump were his appointees.

When many fact finders reach the same conclusion, truth should be obvious, yet polls indicate approximately one-third of Americans still believe the election was stolen. How can that be?

Many politicians have a reputation for distorting the truth and, at times, outright lying. In the case of Donald Trump, he elevated presidential fibbing to a height unmatched during my lifetime. He was caught lying thousands of times during his presidency, and is still promoting “The Big Lie” that he won the election in 2020. That lie incited rage and violence in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 that desecrated the Capitol building and injured and killed people.

A quote often attributed to George Orwell is that, “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” According to snopes.com, the quote actually originated from Selwyn Duke, in a column he wrote on May 6, 2009. Due diligence is required to ascertain true facts.

What confounds many about Donald Trump is that when caught lying outright, he never admits the truth and either doubles-down or maneuvers to avoid conceding his lies. Don Adams, in the Los Angeles Times (Aug. 5, 2020) nailed Trump’s glaring character flaw: “There is a primal authenticity in Trump. He tells you exactly what he feels in the moment. He lies straight to your face without shame, without any concern for future consequences. It is the stark audacity of untruth.”

Trump lost the 2020 election fair and square. We are now hearing evidence from a congressional committee tasked with investigating the cause of the violence in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 and whether Trump and others conspired to stop the democratic process of certifying Biden’s win.

A federal judge has already found in a civil case that Trump’s actions were sufficient enough to charge him with crimes. The court observed, “The illegality of the plan was obvious.” The evidence criminal actions occurred is mounting as the hearings proceed. William Barr (typically a lackey for Trump) testified he advised the president there was no credible evidence that fraud existed. Barr said Trump had become “detached from reality” as he continued promoting his Big Lie. Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in charge of election security, stated the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history.” Trump exhibited malice in firing him for his honesty.

Presidential insiders allegedly destroyed evidence of communications that occurred on Jan. 6. A number of congressmen supposedly sought advance Trump pardons for their part in orchestrating these events. Trump was recorded requesting that the Georgia Secretary of State “find him 11,780 votes that don’t exist” to overturn his loss in that state.

The hearings should confirm if enough evidence exists to charge that a criminal conspiracy was undertaken by Trump and others to thwart America’s democratic process. Liz Cheney, a staunch Republican conservative on the congressional committee, maintains that is the case. It may cost her reelection in Wyoming, but I respect her selfless courage in seeking the truth. It remains to be seen if Merrick Garland, the United States attorney general, will have the same moxie to indict Donald Trump for crimes if it is determined that truth corresponds to reality.

Many Americans have drifted from valuing the truth. Regardless of the criminal outcome, Donald Trump deserves conviction in the court of public opinion for having accelerated that decline in character.

Jesse Robison is a Pocatello native educated in Idaho. He works as a mediator and insurance claim consultant, but his passion is public art. Robison has spearheaded art improvements throughout Pocatello, and serves on the Bistline Foundation.