Former senator Jeff Flake opens an op-ed in The Washington Post with a quotation from George Orwell:
“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.”
Then he quotes from the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
These days, in the United States, truth is no longer self-evident. Flake writes:
It seems a good time to examine how we got to a place where such a large swath of the electorate (70 percent of Republican voters, according to polling) became willing to reject a truth that is so self-evident.
This allergy to self-evident truth didn’t happen all at once, of course. This frog has been boiling for some time now. The Trump period in American life has been a celebration of the unwise and the untrue. From the ugly tolerance of the pernicious falsehood about President Barack Obama’s place of birth to the bizarre and fanatical fable about the size of inauguration crowds, to the introduction of the term “alternative facts” into the American lexicon, the party’s steady embrace of dishonesty as a central premise has brought us to this low and dangerous place.
Flake is flummoxed by his former party mates:
When I became an unwitting dissident in my party by speaking in defense of self-evident truths, I assumed that more and more of my colleagues would follow me. I remain astonished that so few did. Congresswoman Cheney, I know how alone you must be feeling. But just know that history keeps the score, not Kevin McCarthy or Elise Stefanik.
It is elementary to have to say this, but we did not become a great nation by believing or espousing nonsense, or by embracing lunacy. And if my party continues down this path, we will not be fit to govern.
Perhaps he should have included one more quotation -- From Thomas Macaulay, Lord Acton:
" All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Flake's former party is hellbent on achieving absolute power. Acton would tell him that none of this is surprising.