The “fun house mirror,” a device often encountered at carnivals, is intended for the viewer’s comic amusement by the reflection of his grossly distorted and altered image. This amusing, but startling, phenomenon, we understand, is accomplished by the presentation of a curved mirror in lieu of a normal flat one. Following a brief peek at the subtly curved mirror, a private feeling of relief is often sought, as one, furtively, looks away in horror, seeking needed momentary restoration and relieved reassurance of reality, from that bizarre image of oneself, previously appearing in the mirror.
By stark contrast, a decidedly non- amusing phenomenon in our times, is the pernicious practice of intentional transmission of fallacious and distorted portrayals of factual reality. This pathology is chronic in selective media outlets, notably, certain identified television news channels. False and misleading misstatements are typically communicated for tactically political purposes but are also employed in other sundry contexts, viz., merchandising and contested public issues.
Broadcast misstatements, those that are intentionally misleading, as well as those that are simply inaccurate, disturbingly, become the foundation of abundant misguided public opinion and errant understanding. This dynamic is markedly effective with inadequately educated, poorly informed citizens and, unlike the casual amusement of a funhouse mirror, is productive of undesirable, often potentially dangerous, outcomes, most cogent in the conduct of a representative democracy.
The fun house mirror, appropriately functional and acceptable for brief elective moments of carnival amusement, is not only useless but predictably dangerous, in any other application. Men, advisedly, would not choose to use it to guide their morning shave, nor would women find it of utility in their application of eyeliner; in such cases, the mirror’s skewed and misleading distortions would, lead respectively, to bloody and bizarrely, unintended outcomes.
On many occasions, we have made reference to the wise and prescient admonition of Thomas Jefferson, viz., that, for a democracy to be successful, it must have educated and informed citizens. The pragmatic veracity of Jefferson’s concerned admonition has at various times in America’s relatively short history been situationally confirmed, but, inarguably, was never more germane than at the present.
Elected leaders in a representative democracy, are knowledgeably charged, among their undertaken duties, with the political responsibility to be guided by the will of the governed, as expressed by means of their democratic voting franchise. To be ultimately useful and democratically successful, such expression of will should reflect the voters’ deliberative understanding of the specific facts in issue, as determined by their own empirical, [non-distorted] life experience [ref. John Locke]. In the natural world, with the singular exception of carnivals, there is no place or utility for fun house distortion.
We would refer to the phenomenon of trustworthy and non-distorted language, in further support of our underlying theme [ viz., the existential importance, to the functioning of society, of the communication of truthful and empirically accurate information]. Society vitally depends upon the utility of a shared and understandable language, as instructively portrayed in the apocryphal tale of the discombobulated building project of the “Tower of Babel,” and as metaphysically exists, in the context of the quintessential existence of a shared empirical reality.
Donald J. Trump cannot deservedly be granted the official patent on falsified statements of reality, nor, indeed, on the articulation of distorted, or non-existent facts. History, however, as a consolation prize, might, predictably, award him an honorable mention, for the unprecedented four years of disgraceful descent of the White House to the level of a town carnival; employing a quality of demonstrated precision and acumen, comparable to those of the horrific images reflected from a fun house mirror. In response to a friend, who once stated that Trump epitomized the proverbial, “Bull in a China Shop,” we responded: “He carries the entire China Shop with him, wherever he goes.”
During his short term of office, Trump wasted little time in the construction of a carnival-level context in the Oval Office, including, symbolically, the installation, in that venerable Office, of a huge, personal-use, fun house mirror, potentially capable of unprecedented and unlimited distortion far more outlandish and skewed than some carnival patron’s contorted image; one, totally bereft of any semblance of utility, moral conscience, or rational thought.
Donald Trump, by virtue of his signature array of multi- sociopathic skills, succeeded in his uniquely atavistic, ignorant, and immoral style, in irresponsibly attacking the existential concepts of “truth” and empirical fact, scientific achievement, and societal morality; and, as shamelessly concomitant, the American aspiration for universal equality. During his single and [singular] term, blemished with two impeachments, in addition to his general grifting of the government treasury in his multiple violations of the Constitutional Emolument Clause, he spent many of his rare non-golfing hours, with MacDonald’s hamburger and M&M’s in hand, focused on his private, consulting, fun house mirror; as empirically evidenced by his bizarre and inappropriate public statements and innumerably witless Presidential acts.
America’s own underbelly population of inadequately schooled, flat-earth, eternally malcontented citizens, from the start, instinctively, noted in President Trump, many signature traits with which they might identify. Not the least among the latter, was his demonstrated, ignorant tendency to ascribe to a distorted fun house mirror, perception of reality. His bizarre views and overt exclusive preference for subjectively desirable facts over objective and empirical truth, his disparagement of the responsible media, and, surreally, the existential importance of the societal institution of “truth” itself, was well-received, by them. It was Trump’s delusional thoughts that were catalytically responsible for their delusional fabrication of paranoid-style conspiracies, including “dark government” plans of conspiratorial control of citizens, covert insertion of tracking devices in Covid vaccine, sub-rosa plots by “elite coastal liberals,” rockets being launched to earth from outer space by Israel, and so many other bizarre paranoid delusions as would be capable of filling a psychiatrist’s wide bookshelf.
The most dangerous and threatening of their delusional constructs to our Republican Democracy was [and still is] his followers’ belief in Trump’s egotistic and neurotic fabrication, his success in the election was “stolen” from him by Biden. This unsupported funhouse mirror-grade distortion was readily adopted by the conspiracy-prone underbelly, and, as well many Trumpist, toady Republicans, both in and out of Congress. The reality that the Biden win was officially certified, as to accuracy and bona fides, by several authoritative audits, seemed ignored or irrelevant to their cultish, fun house mirror distortion. Consequently, in response to Donald Trump’s outlandish and seditious invitation and the zealous support, and participation of his acolytes, the underbelly, [notably inclusive of the White Christian Nationalist gangs], launched the now historically infamous, violent, mob insurrection at the Capital Building, killing and permanently maiming several Capitol Police Offices and destroying valuable historic artifacts. By far, however, the greatest danger was the assault upon democracy by the reality- distorted “patriots.”
The Republican Party’s false, strategic assertion that the election was stolen [justified, alone, by Trump’s personal funhouse mirror,] seems to have “legs,” and been consistently articulated as the [skewed and distorted] rationale for many un-American, Trumper cult initiatives to legislatively limit the vote of black and brown American citizens; who in large part, voted Democratic. In addition to the false and passionate assertion by Republicans of the “stolen election,” [ having objectively been proven to be without factual basis] the Republican Party remains ignorantly hypocritical and shameless regarding their own publicly avowed, intentional programmatic actions to fix future elections; the Trumpian dysfunctional funhouse mirror rules again.
Right- thinking Americans, have now, unsettlingly, realized that Trump’s assault upon truth, together with said cynically hypocritical attempts to fix the vote, are malignant, and eventually lethal to the continuance of our democracy. Accordingly, there must be an appropriate response, to such danger, by a huge vote of right-thinking, American citizens, and, as well, the imposition of suitable punishment as a meaningful deterrent to any future mob peril to our Democratic Republic.