We will never know whether or not Michael Peterson killed his wife. Despite the fact that the evidence was not conclusive, the jury considered that it was due to his past full of lies. The series tells it very well. The Staircase. Years later, when he was offered to testify that she had done it unintentionally to get out of jail, he refused. He wasn’t about to lie on that point. Even lying has a limit.
Something similar must have been thought by Ivanka Trump when she intervened before the committee of the United States House of Representatives that investigates the assault on the Capitol. Her daughter declared that she respected and accepted the opinion of the then attorney general, William Barr, that there had been no fraud in the presidential elections. Every lie has a limit, even if Dad doesn’t like it.
The start of the investigation hearings, last Thursday, has once again confronted American society with one of the most dramatic events in its recent history; an event that revolves around a big lie. This is how Donald Trump called the alleged electoral theft that he had suffered; thus can be considered the entire plot orchestrated by him and his cronies to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.
As Hannah Arendt already developed, the relationship between truth and politics has been more than conflictive throughout history, but today that link has been inexorably broken. Tell that to Boris Johnson, with his Brexit and his partygate: we must remember that post-truth was the word of the year in 2016.
“Political leaders around the world find it increasingly attractive to lie to gain power. I am not referring to telling white lies or manipulating the facts, as they have always done, but to tell those lies that poison democratic coexistence and undermine the simple possibility that a democracy exists”. Thus describes Moisés Naím in Revenge of the mighty, his latest book, the challenge posed by democratic erosion from within and how it is leading to new and evil forms of concentration of power. Putin, Ortega, Erdogan, Orbán, Duterte, Bukele… The last one, the attempt by Andrés Manuel López Obrador to dismantle the National Electoral Institute, the independent body that guarantees clean elections in Mexico.
The battle against the Big Lie for the future of democracy must be waged, according to Naím, on multiple fronts: technology, journalism, a more aware and prepared citizenry, as well as the law.
And his first big fight is being fought these days in Washington. The evidence is there, in the images that went around the world; in the more than 1,000 testimonies; in the more than 140,000 documents collected. It will not be enough to convince those who have decided to blindly believe in their beloved leader. Fascism and dictatorships are built on that blindness and those fanaticisms. But the battle must be given. For now, US institutions continue to show their resilience.
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