In the past twelve months, the political order which we define as a “Western liberal democracy” has been uprooted and jeopardised by a catastrophic transformation on our political compass. Instead of pointing towards a consented agreement with some minor disillusion, the distance from East to West, and between North and South, represents a community of international citizens overwhelmed by division. Whether that be the European disagreement over the migrant crisis, or the Brexiters battling the Remainers in the Commons, it is obvious that tribalism in politics is prevailing.
With the inauguration of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States last week, it seems that division has triumphed in contrast to his inauguration speech of unity. The global community’s migraine brought on by his derogatory campaign rhetoric now feels like a haemorrhage. There are no pain killers available to cure the outrage of such a misogynistic and vulgar man now standing in the World’s most influential office.
Post-truth politics, however, is a term that has flourished within the contemporary landscape. Here is the definition laid out by the English Oxford Living Dictionaries:
“an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief'”.
Post-truth essentially refers to objectively lying about a fact despite obvious evidence to prove the contrary; but more importantly, it involves capturing and manipulating the hearts and minds of those who obsessively wish the lie to be true. For example, the much disputed number of attendees at Obama’s inauguration versus Trump’s; or the substantiated evidence pointing towards Russian involvement in the Trump campaign; or even the indisputably sound recording of Trump’s life advice for men to just “grab ’em by the pussy”. The last fact is even more difficult to comprehend, considering these were the words of the current U.S President, and not a columnist from the NUTS magazine.
What the world is seeing is an attack on a nation which has a democratic privilege to hold their politicians accountable over what they deem significant . Their every argument now, however, is fraught with accusations of falsehood or is aggressively pushed under the umbrella of “Lefty bullshit”. Their stance has zero truth, and is considered as a sinister attempt to undermine the credibility of the new establishment; the establishment that has overturned the old and rid Washington of it’s aristocratic elite. Post-truth, then, has evolved alongside Trump whereby any criticism at odds with his electoral journey and his political vision is false; it defies the meaning of truth.
What Trump has created is a political tactic that ridicules what we recognise as respectable democratic pillars. When his agenda faces defiance, his “go-to” remedy is to declare his opponents as liars, traitors and threats to national security.
But Trump’s Post-truth agenda is even more radical in the way his electorate are hypnotised into believing his theories. Republican voters have increasingly viewed Trump as an infallible leader, worthy of evoking nothing less than the greatest plan for America’s future seen in the Twenty First Century. Their sacrificial dependance and admiration of him as a leader implies the success of populism. Take immigration from Mexico: when you rally a community around the idea that Mexican migrants steal employment from White Americans through the provision of cheap labour, and you provide a solution, or even a physical wall to solve their grievance, White America will bow down to Trump’s agenda.
And here you have Post-truth politics. Every criticism thrown in Trump’s direction is now branded a falsified lie, designed to manipulate the man who will implement reform benefiting them. Anything beyond this goal is irrelevant.
This indenial is worrying in that it appears to have no end. With the support of a population who believe Trump is a victimised leader, it seems post-truth politics will prevail and intensify. The electorate has become a manipulated movement, committed to his gestures however rash or radical they may be. And who really knows what he is capable of yet.
The future seems bleak.