What is the connection between fascism, George Orwell’s award-winning novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” and what’s referred to today as “the big lie,” or Donald Trump won this last election? Merriam-Webster dictionary lists several fascism characteristics, such as a political philosophy that exalts nations or race above others, a dictatorial leader, and a forcible suppression of the opposition.
Shortly after World War II, Orwell wrote his masterful novel to warn against fascism, such he observed with Hitler. In his mythical country of Oceania, Big Brother symbolizes the government that has cameras everywhere, recording their people 24/7. One of the worst crimes was thoughtcrime, any bad thoughts against the Party. The main character, Winston, refuses to believe the Party lines. The Party asks him to believe that 2 plus 2 equals 5, which he refuses because he knows it is objectively not true. The Party then tortures him, again asking for him to agree that 2 plus 2 equals 5. The Party explains that if he believes this falsehood, then all else will follow. He will believe anything the Party tells him.
The last several years have shown a decline in the belief of facts. Years before he ran for office, President Trump accused President Obama of being a Muslim and not being born in the United States. Both his accusations were proven false. President Trump developed a habit of referring to any critical story written about him as “fake news,” thus brushing aside any criticism. His spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway, presented views that she labeled “alternative facts.” (There is no such thing). President Trump further laid the groundwork for the “big lie” when before the election he said the only way he could lose was if the other side cheated.
Pollsters now say that 40-60 present of Republicans believe the lie that President Biden won the election due to cheating.
Facts can be found to support President Biden’s victory. Supporters of President Trump and his theory of dishonest elections filed over 50 lawsuits trying to overturn various results. Judges, including several appointed by President Trump, threw out every lawsuit, but one.
Two of the latest to support facts include former Vice President Dick Cheney, who attended the Jan. 6 memorial and issued a quote against “the big lie,” and Karl Rove, a former major Republican strategist, who wrote an editorial last weekend critical of the lie. I was proud to hear Republican Sen. Mike Rounds from my home state of South Dakota on “Meet the Press,” Sunday, Jan. 9, that the election was fair and President Joe Biden won.
These three Republicans represent several that are placing country over party and telling the truth about the election.
Just as in Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” once people believe lies, it will be easier to continue believing anything the Party tells them. Democracies depend on a citizenry that fact-checks its leaders and refuses to be led by lies.