Editorial cartoonist

(Tom Toles)

Every minute President Trump is in office, more damage is done to the United States.

We are supposed to be comforted by the institutional checks and balances. We are supposed to derive solace from the fact that there will be future elections. We are supposed to be heartened by the knowledge that what he does can be undone.

Maybe not so much.

You may have wondered how such an edifice as American Democracy could possible fall. This is how. And as with many historical surprises, it could happen far more rapidly than anyone imagined. Trump and his Republican enablers are not just issuing their misguided regulations and beavering away to pass their crazed legislation. These aberrations can indeed be checked or reversed.

But the GOP/Trump project is simultaneously jackhammering the foundation stones beneath the entire American project. They are pulverizing basic respect for facts and scientific methodology, along with fundamental deference to truth. They are mixing the dust into a muddy slurry. And this is their idea of the swamp they have come to drain away.

It is not particular facts that they are out to destroy. It is the whole system of facts. And once that is gone, it is a long long time before you get it back.

The incomprehensible sight of the head of the Environmental Protection Agency disavowing environmental science itself is a flapping thematic flag for The Lie.

It’s not that they don’t know. Ignorance is, in theory anyway, correctable. It’s that they don’t want to know. And they don’t want you to know either. But it goes beyond even that. It is a policy of destroying the very idea that facts are knowable or that facts exist independently from assertion. This disease has been incubating for some time. But now we have an administration prepared to go all in.

The plan is this: If Trump says it, it is true. Period.

That is the new foundation stone of American government. Watch and listen to how the administration behaves. That’s it. If Trump says it, whatever it is, it is true. And he will never yield or compromise on this. He can’t. It is the way his mind works, and he will only tolerate people around him who will act to reinforce this. And every day he is in office, truth erodes a little more, and our democracy is weakened a little further.

Lies are the carbon dioxide we are pumping into our political system now. And the damage is cumulative.

And then one day the tipping point is reached, and the climate we thought we knew is gone for an eon.