J. Alan Gift: Trump leads a perilous slide into ’1984′

President Donald Trump arrives to speak to the Latino Coalition Legislative Summit, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

It picked up momentum during the Russia investigation:

Robert Mueller, respected Republican public servant, FBI director for 12 years and decorated Vietnam war veteran — a man with a long history of demonstrated integrity — was “effusively praised,” ”embraced” by Republicans and Democrats alike when chosen as special counsel for the Russia investigation in May of 2017.

Mueller and his team of highly qualified prosecutors went to work, and in consensus with all U.S. federal intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, found abundant and conclusive evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

But President Trump would have none of it. “Witch hunt!” he asserted over and over and over, and standing beside Vladimir Putin, expressed doubts Russia had anything to do with interfering in our 2016 elections.

The president effectively created an “illusory reality” for public consumption.” Russia is innocent and the president’s campaign associates convicted of crimes are victims of a corrupt process, a “Hoax” and a “Scam.”

Describing this tactic in the novel “1984,” the protagonist, Winston Smith, informs us, “The Keyword here is blackwhite. ... Applied to an opponent it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white in contradiction of the plain facts”

It is not Trump’s associates or Russia who are at fault, Trump did and continues to maintain, it is Mueller and his team of investigators who are the real criminals.

Republican lawmakers, at first effusive with praise for Mueller, now needed to reverse course and take an entirely different approach — that is if they wanted to avoid the wrath of the president and stay in good standing with their Trump-adoring constituents.

“Applied to a Party member,” (in this case Republican lawmakers), Orwell’s protagonist informs us, “Blackwhite means “a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this.”

Along with Trump’s surrogates in the media, congressional Republicans gradually, or not so gradually, adopted the alternative reality created by the president. By the time the report was published and Mueller came to testify, they were entirely onboard the fantasy train and vilified Mueller and his team, seeking to discredit their motives and their conclusions.

In blatant contradiction of the clearly written report, lawmakers followed the president’s lead in stating that the report “totally vindicated” Trump from any hint of wrongdoing, including obstruction of justice. The Democrats were looking for any excuse they could come up with, the Republicans effectively argued, to reverse the results of the 2016 election.

The Republican legislators’ blackwhite complicity was working great with Trump’s base and thus congressional Republican constituents, and then another unfortunate reality was to surface demanding further assertion of “hoax” and “scam” and “witch hunt” in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary: The Ukraine scandal.

Orwell’s Winston Smith tells us “Blackwhite ... means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.

Republican lawmakers, with the exception of Sen. Mitt Romney, collectively sold their souls to Trump during and after hearing conclusive evidence that the commander in chief is guilty of heinous abuse of power, meriting removal from office.

Republican senators would pronounce Donald J. Trump “not guilty” of the charges so obviously true against him, leaving those of us who have been watching and listening carefully, including some registered as Republicans, not surprised but disheartened.

At the state of the union, the president received obsequious ovations from the Republican Reichstag. And he has subsequently proceeded to take action against those who dared tell the truth in the Ukraine affair and naively thought, perhaps, that in the United States of America they would not be subject to executive retribution for doing their civic duty.

As the world watches, Trump continues to assert that black is white as he works to sway public opinion against “dishonest and corrupt people,” (i.e., anyone who has questioned his alternative reality). He rewards blackwhite participants with such perks as Medals of Freedom and feigned outrage at their treatment.

So here we are, and unless we wake up, educate ourselves, and indignantly refuse to be duped, our slide into the authoritarian nightmare of “1984” will continue into the darkening political landscape of 2021.

Alan Gift

J. Alan Gift is a retired social worker living in Harrisville.