One of the Surgeon General’s most public tasks over the last fifty years has been to warn the American public, for its own good, of the dangers involved in using or even being near toxic substances. Cigarettes are the most prominent example, although various Surgeon Generals have also warned us of other toxic dangers to our health as individuals.
Now I think the time has come for using the Surgeon General’s authority to warn us of a danger to us not just as individuals, but as a nation. We are in grave danger from an extremely toxic substance, one that is eating away at our sanity and our moral fiber as individuals and a nation.
We need a Surgeon General’s warning to accompany the tweets and other pronouncements of President Donald J. Trump. The Washington Post, supported by pretty much every other reputable fact checker, has documented that President Trump is on track to lie to the American people more than 2000 times in his first year in office. All politicians lie sometimes, of course, but our Prevaricator in Chief has blown previous records for lying out of the water. By several orders of magnitude. And the purpose of many of his lies is to drive toxic wedges into our country. Or to attack the principles of justice, equality, freedom and democracy on which our country is founded, and the institutions that uphold them.
Despite how obvious many of his lies are, 35-40% of America still believes many of them, or makes excuses for them. They very much resemble the kinds of excuses made by addicts and their enablers to defend their behavior.
Trump is aided and abetted by a sophisticated right-wing propaganda machine that supports and prepares the ground for his assault on the truth. That machine has a significant part of the American people in near absolute thrall, willing to believe anything that spews from Trump or his minions’ mouths, no matter how ridiculous or hateful it is. Particularly if what they say resonates with and justifies their own biases and bigotries.
So the Surgeon General’s warning should also extend to the words and/or broadcasts of many institutions in the right-wing propaganda machine that prop Trump up. InfoWars, Breitbart, Fox and Friends and Hannity pop to mind right away, but there are definitely more.
The warning should read something like this:
WARNING: The person you are about to listen to or read is a known serial liar with questionable sanity and intelligence. Listening to and giving credence to what he/she says will gravely endanger your own mental and emotional health, as well as that of the country as a whole. It will also cause intelligent friends and family members to doubt your sanity, your morals and your judgment, and is likely to cause significant damage to your reputation and your relationships with those people. If unchecked for a long period of time, it could destroy democracy in America.
If only such a warning were possible. If only people would heed it.