The U.S. president is adamant: His predecessor had him wiretapped. Without proof. Now a study shows how many Americans believed it anyway – and how dangerous Trump’s tactics are.
It was a Saturday morning at the beginning of March in his vacation resort Mar-a-Lago in Florida when Trump reached for his cell phone and pursued one of his favorite activities. In 140 characters the whole country was in a flurry.
This time, Donald Trump made the accusation that his predecessor Barack Obama had him wiretapped during the election campaign. An accusation that could still pose a big problem for Trump.
And for which there is no proof up to now. It has got nothing to do with the facts. The heads of the NSA and FBI have categorically denied Trump’s complaint of a wiretapping. Just this: a more than unusual, a dramatic occurrence. The president of the United States was publicly put in a bad light by the heads of the intelligence agencies with whom he is actually supposed to work closely.
Barack Obama did not instruct the U.S. intelligence agencies to wiretap Donald Trump in Trump Tower. And in spite of that, 47 percent of all Americans believe it is “very probable” or “probable” that Trump’s offices were surveilled by government authorities during the 2016 presidential campaign. Among the Republicans, even 74 percent believe this. A recent CBS study shows this. What many Americans believe has little to do with facts in this case. But absolutely, with their political party preference.
This is also shown by another current survey, which was just published.
Without anything having changed in their financial situations, Republicans now report that they feel better about their financial situations twice as often as they did four months ago. But not only conservatives have changed their perceptions. Democrats perceive their financial situation now on average to be very much worse than before under Barack Obama.
What does that say about the United States of America and the condition of the country under the new president?
It is Only a Matter of Impression
First and foremost, numbers make clear the success Trump has had with his strategy.
Trump is trying with his statements to create an America in which facts play an increasingly weaker role. That had already become clear in the election campaign, and that he continues to continue with this plan as president, now with resounding success, has hardly been a surprise. The consequences cannot yet be estimated in detail. But they well may fundamentally change the political landscape for a long time.
Everyone mistrusts everyone else. That is a requirement for politics outside of facts as Trump is doing it. Because when the truth no longer plays a role, then, as Trump’s reckoning goes, it is only a matter of the impression of whether he is helping his voters.
That is Trump’s tactic. The president speaks about the world as he believes his supporters see it or would like to see it. With this he is driving the division of an already polarized society even further. And laying the foundation for authoritarianism. Authoritarianism is seductive because it saves one from having to put up with incapability, difference and ambivalence.
For democratic debate, on the other hand, verifiable facts are essential. What follows from the facts is debated in a functioning democracy. When there is, however, no longer consensus, when everything is at the same time true and untrue, then there can be no open and unbiased discussion. Then the laws of the stronger prevail.