After this weekend's #alternativefacts debacle, it's evident we're in the era of Make-Your-Own-Reality. Trump's staffers are feverishly trying to craft their own reality—that the inauguration crowd was of record size, say, or that they didn't lie about the inauguration crowd's size.
This kind of Twilight Zone experimentation is terrifying and bizarre: Press Secretary Sean Spicer endured a public meltdown in the White House briefing room, while Kellyanne Conway twisted herself into a pretzel trying to defend him on national television.
As Seth Meyers pointed out last night, it might all seem petty. But what we're really fighting for is the concept of a common set of facts that defines our reality—and will define the more consequential debates to come:
Meyers rounded out the segment with a savvy distillation of what's actually at stake in this mind-numbing back-and-forth over whether the stands at Trump's inaugural parade looked like those of an 0-15 elementary school baseball team. We must defend facts, evidence, and reality so that they remain on the field for the battles to come:
These may seem like small lies, but the small lies inoculate us against the bigger lies. They make facts a matter of partisan debate, rather than accepted, shared reality. It may be crowd sizes now, but soon much bigger decisions will come when reality will matter. The only way to answer these lies for the next four years will be organized resistance, like the protests we saw this weekend.
In truth, conservatives have sought to make facts "a matter of partisan debate" for years. That's how climate change, which a scientific consensus holds is happening as a result of human activity, became a he-said-she-said political football. But we seemed to have entered a new stage, where not just individual issues but the idea of reality itself is continually undermined.
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