Patients suffering from intractable, chronic, or phantom-limb pain often find relief in mirror therapy, which tricks the brain into believing the injured limb is “healed” by viewing a reflection of a normal, pain-free one.
We are living in just such a world, but in reverse. Instead of seeing a healthy body politic, we have in its place a seemingly infinite iteration of images reflecting lie after lie, distortion after distortion and the maladies infecting our republic.
We refer, of course, to the fantastical (un)reality conjured by former president Trump and his henchmen that describes the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 – the day the Senate met to confirm President Biden’s victory in the Electoral College — as “legitimate political discourse.” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) promised, even before the long-awaited hearings began, that “You will see us all over the airwaves. We will be setting the record straight. We will be telling the truth to the American people sharing the facts and also really pointing out how unprecedented and unconstitutional and illegitimate this committee is.” Indeed, in his “pre-buttal,” the dishonorable House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who refused to comply with committee subpoenas, called the investigation “political” and a “witch hunt.” TV host Tucker Carlson, ever more extreme from night to night, declared Fox would not be televising the “propaganda.”
In prime time on Friday evening June 9, however, the evidence presented to launch the hearings was stunning and disturbing. More frightening than we remembered, a nightmare in the retelling. And the worst of it is the “firehose of falsehoods” keeps coming. As long as people believe the debunked assertions that the “election was stolen” and voter fraud is widespread, as long as well-financed platforms support the malignant inversion of our founding values, our republic might not survive the next insurrection.
In her opening remarks, committee co-chair Rep Liz Cheney (R-WY) warned her Republican colleagues who were “defending the indefensible” and perpetuating the lies: “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”
And what we see in the mirror will be too painful to contemplate.