The President of the United States is a liar.
If kids understand that people in positions of mighty power can lie – and lie epicly on a gargantuan scale – what does that mean for their understanding of authority, the law, the concept of trust, and, god help us, integrity?
I’ve just had this conversation with my eleven year old son.
“Mum, is Donald Tr*mp a liar?”
“Why is he lying?”
“Because he wants to confuse people. He wants them to question whether facts really are facts.”
“But facts are facts!”
“Do you think facts are facts?”
“Facts, my love, are ALWAYS facts. Don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.”
“But what if a teacher tells you that something’s true when you absolutely know it isn’t?”
“Your teachers wouldn’t do that.”
“Why not? If the President of the United States can do it, mum, you can bet your life a primary school teacher from Stockport can.”
“Donald Tr*mp is a special case.”
“I think I’m right in saying that no-one in American presidential history has ever lied like he does.”
“But aren’t there laws to stop him from lying?”
“Well, there’s the American Constitution.”
“So if he goes against the Constitution, he’s officially a liar.”
“Mum, why did he sack that lawyer who said the Muslim ban was illegal?”
“Because he disagreed with her.”
“But if the Constitution says it’s illegal, then isn’t it illegal?”
“Yes. The law aims to be very clear and definite about what is legal and what isn’t.”
“Is the Constitution clear?”
“So he’s lying when he says the ban is legal?”
“I’m not a Constitutional lawyer, son. I put on funny voices for a living.”
“But if it says it’s wrong in the Constitution, then it must be wrong.”
“Does he just want to make what he says become law?”
“I don’t know, son…”
“Because if I say the sky is green when it’s blue, it doesn’t make it green, does it?”
“No. It doesn’t.”
“Can people trust Donald Tr*mp?”
“No. Because he’s a liar.”
“What about Theresa May? She trusts him.”
“I don’t know if that’s true. I think she feels that she’s got to seem to trust him.”
“Because of Brexit?”
“But what if Donald Tr*mp lies to her? What if he breaks a promise? And what if Brexit is bad for the UK? And what if by being friends with Donald Tr*mp, Theresa May makes things worse for the UK?”
“All big questions, son.” (at this point I am in despair)
“Lying’s really bad, isn’t it, mum?”
“So, how are they going to make him stop?”
Good bloody question, son.
The responsibility isn’t on serial liar Tr*mp to tell the truth (I don’t think he’d know the truth even if it grabbed him by the pussy); the responsibility is on all of us to avoid becoming serial believers.