From George Santos to George Bush, U.S. government runs on lies

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Photo: Representative George Santos. Public domain.

The seemingly endless string of lies told by Representative George Santos has been capturing headlines for weeks, and it’s easy to see why. Each fabrication seems bolder and more absurd than the next, and yet he refuses to give up the congressional seat he won through fraud. And now, he is actually being given committee assignments by Republican leadership! The fact that he will be appointed to these bodies, as opposed to being left out altogether, is an indicator that pressure on him to resign is easing up. 

It is right for people to be outraged at the wanton deception displayed by Santos. To name a few examples, he lied about where he went to high school and college, made up a fake career in finance at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, pretended to be the grandchild of holocaust survivors, and appears to have even set up a fraudulent animal charity while he was going by the name Anthony Devolder. Calls are circulating for Santos to be investigated for financial crimes considering that he claims to have somehow lent his campaign $700,000 in the run up to the election, despite reporting only $55,000 in personal income in recent tax filings. 

But among ruling class politicians, George Santos is an amateur when it comes to telling lies. Throughout U.S. history, powerful individuals and groups have spread falsehoods that have destroyed lives and entire countries. Lying is the way the U.S. government functions. Consider just four examples from the recent past that puts Santos to shame. 

  1. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction

One of the most infamous lies in the history of U.S. warmaking, the false notion that Iraq was in possession of chemical, biological or nuclear “weapons of mass destruction,” was the principle rationale for the invasion. It was repeated endlessly by President Bush and other top administration officials, including an infamous episode where Defense Secretary Colin Powell used a prop vial of mock anthrax to hammer home his point when speaking before the United Nations Security Council. 

But no WMDs were ever found. All along, the U.S. government knew that they did not exist. Evidence that emerged after the invasion, like the Downing Street Memo and revelations from ex-officials like former high-ranking CIA officer Tyler Drumheller, revealed, that instead, the decision to launch the war was made first, and then intelligence agencies went on a search to concoct “proof” that would justify it. The result? Over one million Iraqis were killed, many millions more were terribly injured or became refugees, thousands of U.S. service members died, and Iraqi society was destabilized by violent political discord that continues to this day.  

  1. A wave of teen ‘super predators’ is responsible for crime

A profoundly racist and ludicrously false theory first put forward by academic John DiIulio took hold in the 1990s that a layer of youth who lack “responsible adults who teach you right from wrong” have emerged as “super predators” who “place zero value on the lives of their victims” and are responsible for a rising tide of violent crime. It was always heavily implied, if not outright stated, that the “super predators” in question were young Black men. There was of course no actual evidence to support this theory — it was a lie designed to appeal to and stoke racist fears.

And yet the idea of super predators was embraced by the political establishment and formed part of the justification for the mass incarceration policies of that era. In 1996, for instance, Hillary Clinton gave a speech where she discussed the need to “take on … the kinds of kids that are called super predators. No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.” Millions of people were affected by the “tough on crime” policies that emerged from this racist hysteria, incarcerated and subjected to cruel and dehumanizing conditions in the prison system. 

  1. An army of Russian bots on Twitter swung the election for Donald Trump in 2016

Shocked at their defeat in the 2016 election to Donald Trump, the Democratic Party establishment decided to blame Russia instead of their own unpopular program of anti-worker “centrist” politics. No evidence has emerged proving the conspiracy theory that Russian intervention, principally through the nefarious use of social media, led to Trump’s victory despite endless Congressional and judicial probes into the matter. What these investigations did produce were alleged operations so miniscule or just plain weird that the notion they had any effect on the election’s outcome is laughable. Just this month, a New York University study found that “there were no measurable changes in attitudes, polarization, or voting behavior” as a consequence of “Russian bot” activity online. But nonetheless, this lie has been used to both dismiss proponents of left-wing politics as Russian dupes and push a tremendously dangerous foreign policy that puts the United States and Russia on a path to war.

  1. Joe Biden will be ‘the most pro-union president’ in American history

The Biden campaign put a great deal of effort into convincing union members that he would defend their interests if elected. On the day before the election, Biden promised, while speaking in a town outside the former industrial hub Pittsburgh, that he would “be the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.” Concretely, this was understood to mean at minimum support for the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a proposed law that would make it far easier to form a union. But upon taking office, having received millions of union members’ votes, Biden completely abandoned the PRO Act and eventually ditched even his own signature social program expansion that would have been of great benefit to union workers and the whole working class. 

If there was any doubt that Biden was lying about being “the most pro-union president,” it vanished following the federal intervention against rail workers at the end of last year. The rail unions were preparing to go on strike to end outrageous scheduling policies and other inhumane workplace conditions that made it next to impossible for employees to live a normal life with their families. After workers in key rail unions voted to reject a proposed contract brokered by his administration, Biden crushed the strike before it happened by getting Congress to unilaterally impose the terms of the rejected agreement.

It is the height of hypocrisy when other elite politicians try to separate themselves from Santos and posture as champions of moral integrity. They know full well that their system of class rule would come crashing down if the population was not fed a steady diet of lies.

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