The motive for Trump’s unending stream of blatant falsehoods is obscure. It might be mental illness, or maybe it’s a Schelling-style hostage strategy in response to principal-agent issues in his administration. I don’t know. What matters most, however, is how the rest of us respond to it.
The losing strategy was artfully employed by Hilary Clinton: paint the Donald as abnormal, a caveman outside the normal bounds of respectable politics. Even if it works—and as we saw it can fail in the face of competing narratives—it has a limited objective, taking down this one man. A better approach would be to craft a straightforward and honest narrative that links Trump’s crass dishonesty to his political goals.
I’d go for the most basic version: Trump’s real plan is to enrich the wealthiest people in the country and allow the continued fleecing of the vast majority through deregulation, deunionization and defunding the public watchdog. If he were open about this he wouldn’t be able to get to first base. So he has to lie constantly, creating a fictitious parallel universe in which exploitation can be decked out as a crusade for justice.
Repeat this at every opportunity. The army of the Right wants an America hardly any Americans actually want, so they have to lie. They can do it with magic asterisks like Paul Ryan or whoppers about millions of hidden fraudulent voters, but the one thing they can’t do is tell the truth.