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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 25-Nov-18


Sunday 25-Novembe-18

Would President Trump lie under oath? Yes and no. And where might it all go?

I recently answered a question on Quora about whether President Donald Trump would lie under oath. Much has been written on this topic, yet it seems a question to which I could perhaps add a thought to the debate.

This is what I wrote:

There are two forms of lying:

  1. Saying things that others believe to be untrue.
  2. Saying things that you believe to be untrue.

Trump likely does 1 but not 2. Why? Because he has a superpower of totally convincing himself that what is factually untrue, is actually true. This happens in the moment of what others call lying. Before and after, he may understand what is true, but when he needs to, he can totally believe anything. The power of this superpower is that the conviction with which he states his ?truth? is enough to also convince many other people, or at least sow seeds of doubt in the facts.

He is not alone in this skill. Salespeople, politicians, lawyers and others do it all the time as a part of their job. Fantasists do it to feel good about themselves and their lives. A reason Trump is so successful is that he is a grand master at it, able in the moment to adapt and shift to make new convincing lies. Yes, successful. Millions voted for him. He dominates the news and the Republican party. That?s something that few others could do.

So yes, he will lie under oath, yet in the moment will not realize he is lying.

And yes, his lying will bring him crashing down, once he finds himself in a place where he cannot bluster, bully or buy his way out of trouble. If he is convicted, he will be outraged as he lies to himself further, telling himself that he is wholly innocent, that this is all a plot, and so on. A danger from this is the civil unrest that could result as his convinced supporters rise up in protest. And who knows where that would go.

The final point is particularly alarming. When perjury leads to conviction, what happens? When 60 million are taken in by promises to help them, when they wholly believe what Trump says, what would they do if their hero was deposed (and maybe even imprisoned)?  Even if a good proportion of them do nothing much, that still leaves quite a few million. This is the stuff of revolutions and civil wars. It may seem incredible, but we live in days where so many norms have been broken, it is difficult to wholly deny the potential of any outcome, no matter how unthinkable.

The critical question in any revolution is what the police and army do. If they join in or stand by, then the revolution continues. Only if they are successful in putting down revolutionaries does the revolution die. Egypt is a classic modern example. In the 'Arab Spring' revolution, the army stood by as Mubarak was deposed. But then they were not happy with the subsequent order and stepped in. These days there is not too much revolution going on there. In America, one assumes that any serious revolution would be quashed, yet the military have a deep respect for their Commander in Chief, whoever this person is, and the Republicans seem to be standing behind Trump. I guess we'll see. 2019 will likely be another interesting political year.


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