He's My Liar
'Yes, he may be a liar but he’s my liar!’
These extraordinary words were spoken by a supporter of Donald Trump as he prepares to take another run for the White House. As we have seen this week, at the same time he faces spiralling charges of criminal activity on a number of counts in several different states.
Most of us will have asked ourselves the question ‘what makes people vote for a man so entirely without scruples?’ But we have learned not to see that the latest revelations of immoral or criminal behaviour seem not to wound him fatally. If people regard him as ‘my liar’ then no amount of evidence of bad character is going to change their minds. This sentence may help us to understand the Trump phenomenon though of course it in no way excuses it.
All of us need someone who is unconditionally on our side, someone who will fight our corner. Many Americans see Trump as that person. These will often – not always - be people who are towards the bottom of the economic pile. They will often live in those unfashionable parts of the USA well away from the prosperous East and West coasts. Alabama maybe or Montana. They will feel that they do not fit somehow. They will feel that in their case the great American Dream has turned into a nightmare. The corridors of bureaucratic power are an impenetrable labyrinth to them. Wall Street is on another planet. And Trump is the man who will give them voice and hope again. And if he breaks the rules in doing this, so be it.
We all need someone to be our advocate sometimes.
BUT…we also need that someone to be a person who will tell us the truth. Someone who will not avoid the moment when some difficult words have to be said. This can be very tricky in families. You have to live with these people long term, and evasion can sometimes seem an inviting option. We have a commitment to care for them and we have a commitment to tell the truth.
In the end someone who tells a lie for you will tell a lie to you.
And that is the moment when the first crack in the relationship appears. A hairline fracture perhaps, but a line of weakness which may give way under greater pressure. There are ways of telling the truth of course, and times to do so. But we have seen with Donald Trump that if you trade in lies you unleash a power which has destructive effects far and wide. And we see that power in our own UK society from top to bottom, from government ministers to Joe Bloggs. We are about to see our own government held to account on just such grounds. Lies of convenience. Comfortable evasions. As we write, these lies have dealt a deadly blow to the Westminster career of former prime minister Boris Johnson.
We must do better than our leaders.