You can’t argue with a fact. — Attributed to Israeli Defense Minister Menachem Dayan, among others.
An Alternate Universe
We all must deal with unpleasant facts such as serious illnesses, the death of loved ones, periods of unemployment, or prolonged poverty. Most of us try to make the best of bad situations, and if possible, work for a better future.
Others continue to live in denial. But just as you can’t argue with a fact, you also can’t just wish it away, replacing it with an “alternative fact.” In our universe, just wishing does not make dreams come true.
Let us consider how Donald Trump has dealt with the three most unpleasant facts of his presidency – the coronavirus, his reelection loss, and the massive hack of our government and private cyber-security systems.
President Trump was made aware of the vast deadly potential of the coronavirus by our nation’s top epidemiologists last January. But he waited until late March to finally sound the alarm and take the steps necessary to bring it under control. Until then, he had issued reassuring statements that the virus would magically vanish when the weather turned warmer.
Trump's Denial And The Creation Of Alternative Facts
Although he fairly decisively lost his bid for reelection on November 3rd, he is still in denial of that loss, and continues using nearly all possible means to overturn the results. Despite losing dozens of state and federal court cases for complete lack of evidence, he and his motley crew of conspiracy believers continue to soldier on, demanding that the election results be overturned in a half-dozen battleground states, and that Trump be declared reelected.
And finally, during the last ten days, after private and federal government cybersecurity experts have exposed a massive hack of government and corporate secrets, Trump has not only minimized the vast national security threat, but tried to shift the blame from Russia to China.
Let’s step back and ask what common element can be found in how Trump handled each of the three greatest crises of his presidency. In a word, it was “denial.”
Trump simply denied basic facts and made up much more palatable alternative facts. Then, using those alternative facts, he created the alternate universe in which he lives.