VOICES: Following the leader means ignoring the constant stream of lies

This guest opinion column by Community Contributor Ray Marcano appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Jan. 10. Community contributors are people who frequently submit fact-based guest columns.

It’s easy to blame Donald Trump for Wednesday’s chaos at the Capitol that has left five people dead.

It’s easy to blame the Capitol Police, whose law enforcement ineptitude should become a “how not to” video. And it’s easy to blame the Republican lawmakers who have and continue to coddle Trump because when they see him, they see votes and nothing more.

But I wonder why we’re not heaping more blame on the true culprits.

The rioters.

Some people are so desperate for something to believe they hang on to the fallacies of a master manipulator. They’re ready to charge into battle for a man who has never cared about people a day in his life.

Trump has a well-documented, long history of racist controversies. He discards people the minute he brands them disloyal. He’s been sued dozens of times by working class people he claims to champion for not paying his bills.

This is who he’s always been, and I still get why people voted for him (an outsider, liberal hate, tells it like it is) and support his policies (conservative judges, immigration, deregulation).

What I don’t get is why people follow him to the ends of hell.

Maybe that’s not a surprise either. Humans don’t learn, make the same mistakes over and over. Hitler parlayed outrage over the Treaty of Versailles into a decade-long reign of terror. People still followed him.

Angst-filled Americans fearful of social progress (gender equality, for example) loved the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Joseph Stalin remains wildly popular in Russia despite his brutality.

I’m not comparing Trump to these three; but I am saying that people can be easily manipulated into believing anything, and it’s much easier in today’s partisan content age. Psychology Today, writing about the art of manipulation, noted, among other things, “Manipulative people prey on our sensibilities, emotional sensitivity, and especially conscientiousness.”

So no, I don’t blame people for voting for Trump. I don’t blame them if they think he’s the best president of all time.

I blame them for following a man willing to destroy the fabric of democracy because they believe his constant stream of lies. When a master manipulator gets in the heads of a people desperate for their own brand of hope, we get chaos.

But we’re starting to get signs some of his followers are seeing the light. Listen to this tearful C-Span caller ask if her president “lied to her” and apologize for voting for him.

But we’re starting to get signs some of his followers are seeing the light. I’m not talking about Republican politicians breaking with Trump. That’s easy to do at the end of a Presidency. Listen to this tearful C-Span caller ask if her president “lied to her” and apologize for voting for him.

No apologies needed. We just have to be better and smarter.

Ray Marcano, a former Dayton Daily News editor, is a media lecturer at Wright State. He’s the former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, a two-time Pulitzer juror and a Fulbright fellow.


NOTE from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: News related to the Capitol riots sparked many comments on our Facebook pages.

Below is a sample of responses to stories we posted to our Facebook pages about lawmaker responds.

" I find it funny that now the media decides to call violent protesters “domestic terrorists.” ― Steven Holbert

Steven, guess you should educate yourself until it makes sense, because it’s not funny at all. It’s called insurrection. Why don’t you Google that too while you’re at it!

“They busted their way into the Capitol building, a police officer died, they destroyed a lot of private property, and they stole whatever they could shove into their pockets and backpacks. THE CAPITOL BUILDING. That is domestic terrorism. Look that up too, since you seem to be confused about its definition.” ― Catlin Liliana Price

“It seams funny that all of Democrats are want President Trump removed. How about removing all Democrats from office.” ― Mike Morarity

“One hundred percent lack of preparedness. It’s like they wanted it to happen. If they really cared about keeping the protest outside they would have beefed up security by leaps and bounds.” ― Kyle Boehme

“There is no justification, no excuses and nothing to compare to the actions of the so called Americans who stormed the Capital yesterday. That was the most UNAMERICAN display all in the name of a man who cares nothing about those who participated in it and cares absolutely nothing about our country and it’s democratic processes!!! If you are attempting to justify it in anyway, then you are NOT an American who stands by our constitution.” ― Carla Crain Partin

“It’s nice to see Liberals finally speak out against riots. Who’d a thought? " ― Leah Edwards