Telling the truth while floating in an ocean of lies.
Barely a fortnight remains in the most revolting political season in memory, so yes, it’s the gun lap for truth tellers, particularly those who are desperate not only to prop up democracy in the near term, but to breathe life into quaint American values like hope and compassion. Yeah, that’s all. Fortunately, truth tellers are everywhere in these final days, facing an ocean of lies with an uncompromised spirit that binds them together from disparate backgrounds.
Chuckie Denison was in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday, getting himself kicked out of a Mike Pence rally for holding up a sign with facts on it. The nerve.
“It was a little rough, you know?” Mr. Denison said on the phone from Mahoning County, home of what used to be the Lordstown General Motors plant where he worked. “We didn’t expect applause, but we were hoping some people in the crowd might understand what’s going on in Lordstown. There might have been some booing, but I heard some voices saying, ‘ Well, they’re right about that.’ That was good to hear.”
What Chuckie’s tired of hearing is the president’s vainglorious gibberish on what he’s done for manufacturing, a hard story to stomach when you’ve spent most of the last quarter century chasing GM jobs from Dayton to Louisiana to Lordstown, ultimately for the opportunity to watch the plant close.
“Many, many plants are now under construction in Michigan and Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida,” is part of the auto manufacturing riff in President Donald Trump’s typical stump speech. “They hadn’t built one in decades and now they’re all over the place.”
As with the great and tiresome percentage of everything the president says, neither part of that is true. Bernard Swiecki at the Center for Automotive Research told FactCheck. org he knew of only two new assembly plants under construction or announced. Anywhere. FactCheck. org asked the White House for a list of auto plants “now under construction in Michigan and Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.”
“Now there’s a very small fraction — maybe five to 10 cars — out in the parking lot during the first shift in a place where they’re supposed to be building trucks,” said Mr. Denison, who did not vote for Mr. Trump but said he sympathizes with those who did.
“There are 20 cars in the management parking lot. It looks like a mom- and- pop business. There are no jobs. Maybe janitorial jobs, a handful of skilled labor jobs, but there are no workers inside building trucks yet. It’s not that we hope it fails. We just want to hold them accountable. We’re gonna keep pushing.”
Lordstown’s plant housed 4,500 jobs as recently as 2017, when it stopped making the Chevy Cruze. The administration helped strike a deal to make electric trucks there, and Mr. Trump boasted that that part of Ohio was booming. Lordstown is not a boomtown, Ohio public radio said recently, “it’s more a ghost town with a paint job.”
The lies are so easy for this administration because they are so easy for the president. “Billy, look, you just tell them and they believe it,” is what Mr. Trump said to former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush after he admonished the president for repeatedly saying “The Apprentice” was the No. 1 show on TV when it hadn’t been for five years. “That’s it: You just tell them and they believe. They just do.”
That was in 2016. Now of course, it’s not just that jobs are disappearing. Americans are dying because these people refuse to tell the truth, which brings me to the other truth- teller I spoke with this week, Dr. Leonard Ganz, the Harvard- trained, Pittsburgh- based doc who directs the cardiac electrophysiology department at Heritage Valley Health System and who has written extensively on medical matters.
“The Trump administration has been objectively terrible when we look at comparative data with respect to the prevalence of COVID- 19 in our community and the case mortality rate,” said Dr. Ganz. “There’s been no plan from the administration for the last eight months, and there is no plan going forward.
“We recognize that people can differ on issues of policy, whether it’s tax rates, immigration, what have you, but public health should not be a political issue. We should be able to come together so that we can all work to promote the public health of our communities. Not only are they not promoting public health measures that are proven to be effective like wearing masks, they are actively working against these measures. On a day when Dr. [ Anthony] Fauci is saying it might not be a good idea for families to get together at Thanksgiving, Trump is holding a rally in Iowa.”
That’s why the New England Journal of Medicine, the most prestigious publication of its kind, recently sidestepped centuries of editorial tradition and took a firm stand on the election: “Truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”
Dr. Ganz has put together the Pittsburgh version of a nationwide series of rallies to be held Saturday by Docs for Biden. It’ll be at 2 p. m., adjacent to the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland, near where some of the most crucial vaccine research continues apace. Maybe someone will mention that part in the Journal article where it pointed out that countries like Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, places without anything close to the medical scientific infrastructure of the United States, have done a better job with testing based on the tests- per- infection metric than America has.
Is this what is meant by American Exceptionalism?
Blessed are the truth- tellers; they must not be the exceptions.