“The Big Lie” is a form of propaganda that has been used over time by manipulative figures in and out of government, politics, and institutions. It has generally been adopted and applied with the specific intent to surreptitiously alter the beliefs of large groups of people.
Adolf Hitler utilized “The Big Lie” phrase in his 1925 book “Mein Kampf,” describing a lie that was so enormous in size those hearing it would be compelled to believe it.
As members of the human race, the positive side of our nature does not allow for us to accept the notion that any of our fellow human beings would ever lie to us in such a massively brazen way. Our line of reasoning, as well as our unconscious processing, leads us to believe that the lie we are hearing just may be the truth.
Hitler put it in the following way: “It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.”
And so it is that if the lie is big enough, people will oftentimes come to the conclusion that it is true, particularly if it is repeated over and over again.
Chiseled on an unholy invisible stone tablet, the insidious principle persists to this day. It was embodied in a quote from Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, which read as follows: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Our customary psychological defenses endow us with the ability to filter out falsehood from truth so that we are able to deal with the commonplace types of lies that we encounter in everyday life.
However, “The Big Lie” is so extraordinary that it is able to pass through psychological defenses that exist within us. Our minds are temporarily short-circuited and ultimately manipulated to a sufficient degree that allows the lie to emerge as “truth.”
Various members of the Democratic Party have either wittingly or unwittingly come upon a variant of “The Big Lie,” which they have used in their “resistance” efforts against President Donald Trump, his administration, his personal relationships, and his family.
I have given this variant of “The Big Lie” the label of “The Big Reverse.”
Lying, of course, is part and parcel of “The Big Reverse.” However, “The Big Reverse” involves an additional component with an individual or group displaying a sudden and dramatic turnaround of language and conduct. This creates in the recipient population what media psychology refers to as “cognitive dissonance.”
Cognitive dissonance is an intellectual and psychological discomfort caused by the intake of information that involves a conflict between what has been said or done in the past and what is presently being said or done.
As human beings, we will instinctively seek to alter one of the opposing beliefs or behaviors to restore the sense of balance that needs to be maintained for individual stability and functionality.
How does all of the above information relate to where our country finds itself in a political, psychological, and societal sense?
Some recent examples may be instructive.
“Impeachment is a very serious matter. If it happens it has to be a bipartisan initiative,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stated in the spring of 2018. “Unless you have bipartisan consensus, impeachment is a divisive issue in the country.”
In an interview with The Washington Post in the early spring of 2019, Pelosi remarked, “I’m not for impeachment. Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”
Then the turnaround occurred.
It was the fall of 2019. Without a single Republican vote, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted to approve an impeachment inquiry. Two hearings were then conducted, where partisan rules were imposed, restrictions were placed solely upon Republican committee members, witnesses that Republicans wished to call were denied, and evidence, fairness, and due process were ignored.
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives brought the articles of impeachment up for a vote. Not a single solitary Republican voted in favor. In the most partisan way imaginable, the articles passed.
In another turnaround example, Democrats stoked the flames of fear and anxiety for months about the urgency that existed to remove the president from office. They even used the culturally familiar phrase “clear and present danger.”
Democrat committee chairs Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler had pushed through the proceedings without having waited for the judicial branch to decide on the legality of the president’s assertion of executive privilege.
After the articles passed the House, Pelosi suddenly put on the brakes. Shirking her constitutional duty, she held back the articles from the Senate for almost a month.
During the impeachment process, the Democrats went to great lengths to portray themselves as being “prayerful” and the process itself as being a “solemn” and “somber” one.
Then the impeachment signing ceremony happened.
Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues celebrated with abandon. Pens with Pelosi’s name stamped on them were actually handed out as souvenirs.
This caused a bit of short-lived cognitive dissonance on the part of otherwise Democrat-adoring personalities on cable news shows.
CNN’s Dana Bash commented, “We are used to seeing signing ceremonies handing out pens at moments of celebration, when a president is signing legislation.” She added, “It was unusual to see that kind of ceremony and handing out the pens and smiling for a picture in this kind of situation where the House speaker has bent over backward to say publicly and privately that this is somber, this is not a time for celebration.” And Bash’s colleague Nia-Malika Henderson called the odd festivities “a little jarring and certainly off message…”
Note of caution in the upcoming days: Expect to see more use of “The Big Reverse” in the Senate impeachment trial.