"The Big Lie" | Reviewed by Bill Schwab
Joe Biden is President of the United States, but former president Donald Trump grabs more headlines and more attention from most U.S. citizens each day. Media report daily on the Department of Justice investigations into Trump's activities. Soon a second round of the Congressional January 6th Committee hearings will begin. Prosecutors in Georgia are currently proceeding to determine if Trump or any of his staff members committed a crime in that state. Reporter Jonathan Lemire delves into this “election chaos and political opportunism” to examine “the state of American politics after 2020.”
The contents of “The Big Lie” will be familiar to anyone who has followed national politics for the last six years. There is not much new in Lemire’s compilation of Donald Trump's fabrications but what makes this book worth reading is that it adeptly organizes, documents, and refutes Trump's many falsehoods all in one place. The book’s well-structured, coherent narrative illustrates that “The Big Lie” is not just the ranting of a disappointed loser of a presidential election but also the result of a consistent, intentional political strategy whose single purpose is to acquire power for the Republican Party.
“The Big Lie” began in 2016 at an August political rally in Columbus, Ohio. In his speech there, Trump said that perhaps he would not accept the election results in his race against Hillary Clinton. He warned “I'm afraid the election is going to be rigged. I have to be honest.”
Trump won the 2016 election, so he did not have to suggest that “the election was rigged” but the stage was set. When he was decisively defeated in 2020 he claimed that enough ballots were cast by illegal aliens to result in his loss of the popular vote and the Electoral College, although there was no evidence of any election fraud.
The problem is, Lemire documents, that millions of people believe whatever Trump says, whether it be the falsehood that “windmills cause cancer” or that “the crowd at my inauguration was bigger than Obama’s.” Lemire contends that all these little lies led to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021.
The author predicts the chaos and violence created by the countless lies will escalate. He says that most members of the Republican Party will continue to acquiesce to Trump’s strategy because it works--it gains power for the party even if it threatens democracy. Lemire observes that “The Big Lie” is now so much a part of the Republican Party's core belief that violence and insurrection have become a legitimate political strategy. He foresees voter suppression and repeated misinformation will dominate the elections of 2022 and 2024.
Lemire’s political insight is supported by many interviews and quotations. He has skillfully captured the current political moment for readers.
About the Author:
Jonathan Lemire is the White House bureau chief at Politico as well as a political contributor to MSNBC and NBC News. This 301-page book is carefully documented with extensive resources listed for each chapter.