What is A Big Lie? What does that mean? Why should you care?

During next week's Senate trial to convict Donald Trump and disqualify him from ever again holding office, you may once again hear the phrase The BIG LIE.

It struck me that many people are confused as to what the phrase A BIG LIE or The BIG LIE means and therefore likely don't know what it means or why it is important.

Here then is a brief summary of the history of the phrase and its use.

Wikipedia says - “A big lie (German: große Lüge; often the big lie) is a propaganda technique used for political purpose, defined as, "a gross distortion or misrepresentation of the facts, especially when used as a propaganda device by a politician or official body".The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, to describe the use of a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously."

The historian Heather Cox Richardson - February 2, 2021 letter - notes too: “The big lie, a key propaganda tool that is associated with Nazi Germany, is a lie so huge that no one can believe it is false. If leaders repeat it enough times, refusing to admit that it is a lie, people come to think it is the truth because surely no one would make up anything so outrageous....Big lies are springboards for authoritarian politicians. They enable a leader to convince followers that they were unfairly cheated of power by those that the leader demonizes."

The BIG LIE we as a nation have been exposed to is, of course, Trump's. To cite Richardson again, “Trump supporters insist that there was massive fraud in the 2020 election (there wasn't) and that Trump really won (he didn't)."

It was The BIG LIE that led Trump Supporters to storm the Capitol on January 6, incited by Trump who, as the New York Times reports, for 77 Days worked the Big Lie to subvert the 2020 election. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/us/trump-electi...

Trump, of course, has a long history of casting doubt on the Electoral Process and of spreading The BIG LIE. He did this in 2012 and then again during this election, starting on Aug. 17, 2020 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin -- when he famously said, "The only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged."

It should have been no surprise then, after the polls had closed on Election Day, at 2:30 in the morning, and Biden was possibly going to win, Trump continued his earlier claims, “This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election — frankly, we did win this election. We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at 4 o'clock in the morning and add them to the list."

From then until now, despite reality contradicting Trump and his enablers' words, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson on Fox, or a Giuliani-led legal team with wackos like Sidney Powell, or GOP “regulars" like Newt Gingrich, Lindsey Graham, Roy Blunt and Kevin McCarthy- amplified his false propaganda with words that echoed his own.

No dissension was allowed to The BIG LIE.

For example, when Christopher Krebs, who ran the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, released a statement calling the 2020 election "the most secure in American history," on November 12, Krebs was immediately fired.

When Attorney General William Barr, who had always been a Trump lapdog, told The Associated Press on December 1 that "we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome, “ he also apparently told Trump that he could not manufacture evidence and that his department would have no role in challenging states' results. Barr would soon leave the Trump orbit.

By all accounts, Trump even demanded of the 5 lawyers hired to mount his defense against the House impeachment that they build the case that he had won the Election. When they refused, those 5 were quickly dispensed with.

Even in the Trump Defense Team papers filed on February 2, by Trump's new lawyers, Bruce Castor and David Schoen, Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud (aka The BIG LIE) were put forth under the guise of free-speech arguments.

Castor and Schoen argued that Trump believed he "won it by a landslide," and therefore was within his First Amendment rights to "express his belief that the election results were suspect." They also made the laughable and deceptive argument that Trump's claims could not be “disproved," because there was "insufficient evidence."

The New York Times article on the Defense Team Brief commented that the Castor and Schoen assertion of “insufficient evidence" was false, “ noting that “Judges rejected more than 60 lawsuits by Mr. Trump and his allies claiming varying degrees of fraud or irregularities."

I would add, and Biden won the popular vote by a margin of 7 million votes, receiving 81,283,098 votes, or 51.3 percent of the votes cast, to Trump's 74,222,958 votes, or 46.8 percent of the votes cast.

Then, on January 6th, despite the Trump inspired riot, a joint session of Congress validated Joe Biden's victory. Joe Biden won a solid majority of 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232, the same margin that Trump bragged was a landslide when he won the White House four years ago.

As then Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on January 6th, standing on the Senate floor, before the Trump rioters broke through, “This election actually was not unusually close. Just in recent history, 1976, 2000, and 2004 were all closer than this one. The Electoral College margin is almost identical to what it was in 2016. If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral."

Nevertheless, led by Republican Senators Josh Hawley (MO) and Ted Cruz (TX), 6 other Trump enabling Senators Tommy Tuberville (AL), Roger Marshall (KS), John Kennedy (LA), Rick Scott (FL), Cynthia Lummis (WY) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), sustained objections to the Electoral College count, as did more than 130 GOP representatives - all perpetrators of The BIG LIE.

As Senior Fellows of the non-partisan Brookings Institute Henry Farrell and Elizabeth N. Saunders wrote in an Institute publication entitled, “A cynical ploy like Hawley and Cruz's looks harmless. Until it isn't." (published on January 11, 2021), “Democracy is built upon the notion that politicians who lose elections will admit defeat and move on. By challenging this idea — however insincerely — Hawley and Cruz are helping unravel the core political bargains of American politics. Senators with presidential ambitions cannot treat fundamental beliefs about democracy as something they can put on and take off like a costume, returning to real life when the curtain drops. If they act as though they don't hold a core democratic belief, they may convince the audience to stop believing, too. Wednesday's invasion of Capitol Hill shows what happens when people are told that the election has been stolen from them and that there is a chance to take it back themselves."

And even if on January 6th, when the joint session of Congress resumed to validate the Electoral Count following a Trump inspired insurrection, Trump's Vice President Mike Pence fulfilled his Constitutional duty and simply certified the Electoral Votes, rather than unilaterally throwing out electoral votes as Trump demanded, we should never forget what happened the weekend before.

On Saturday evening, January 2, Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, issued a statement saying that Mr. Pence "shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election." “The vice president," the statement continued, "welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people on Jan. 6th."

Pence initially helped to perpetuate The BIG LIE. Apparently a seditious, murderous crowd looking for him, shouting “Hang Pence, “ seems to have brought him to his senses on January 6th.

Currently too, Team Trump, which seems to consist of the entire Republican membership of Congress, possibly minus 10 Representatives in the House who voted for Trump's impeachment and 10 Senators (if those visiting Joe Biden to discuss the Covid Relief bill will form an ongoing bloc), are supporting another BIG LIE too, that the Senate has no right to try Trump because he has left office.

We shouldn't be surprised. According to the Washington Post, during his 4 years in the White House, Trump's false or misleading claims total 30,573 (January 24, 2021)

LIES proliferate LIES, one following another, because once the line between truth and lies has been crossed, LIES first become snowballs and then avalanches. When millions subscribe to an untruth, you know you are in the presence of A BIG LIE.

Here then is a summary of what The BIG LIE is. You can share it with your friends.

A BIG LIE is an enormous deliberately untruthful fabrication, weaponized by authoritarian leaders like Hitler and Trump to further their power.

Democracy, beware.

February 3, 2021.

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