About the failed shared reality

Didn’t read the Frank Bruni newsletter till after my post.  Endorse this 100%

But I can tell you, as someone who remembers Clinton’s impeachment well, what was different: The two parties weren’t pressing two entirely separate and contradictory sets of facts, not nearly to the extent that they are now. They weren’t promoting two utterly different realities. Truth was twisted, sure. But it remained something of a tether.

For Republican lawmakers now, it isn’t.

This impeachment process has become the grandest test yet of how fully and successfully President Trump can corrupt our discourse with fiction and persuade a consequential share of Americans that no such corruption has taken place. He will almost certainly be acquitted in the Senate, because his approval rating among Republican voters is still well above 80 percent in many polls, and that’s a signal to the party’s leaders that they admonish him at their peril. So they validate his fantasies and his conspiracy theories. They sing the same loopy song.

Let me be clear: Entrenched political tribalism infects the Democratic Party, too. It’s the ruinous virus of this moment, spread with newly efficient ease by an information economy in which we can curate our news so that all we hear is an echo or amplification of what we already believe. It hardens those convictions. They become stone.

And Democrats routinely engage in hyperbole. They do their own selective edits of events.

But what we’ve seen from Republicans during the Trump era in general — and over the past few months in particular — goes well beyond that. There was nothing “perfect” about the president’s phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart. The whistle-blower did not get everything wrong. (Quite the opposite.)

The notion that Trump is concerned about corruption anywhere is ludicrous. And the idea that Ukraine, not Russia, was the major actor in 2016 election interference has no factual backing and is a dangerous mockery of what the Trump administration’s own intelligence officials have determined.

Whatever shape Trump’s trial in the Senate ends up taking, he’ll survive it. We’ve been marching furiously toward a foregone conclusion. But the larger journey doesn’t end there. We’re crossing into a No Man’s Land where reality belongs to the most practiced liar with the most shameless enablers. It’s a place inhospitable to competent governance. To accountability. To democracy, too.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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