by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
What Trump haters see in Chernobyl is this: Like the Soviet bureaucracy, Trump is hostile to the truth and won’t budge even when told he’s wrong. In the Left’s caricature, Trump is also dangerously antagonistic toward science and reason. He is supposedly the bull-headed denier who won’t acknowledge the slow-developing Chernobyl that is climate change. Trump is the tech genius saying Reactor Number Four could not have exploded because that’s his opinion, and no facts can change it, even as chunks of evidence to the contrary rain down around him. …
… Trump has his problems with the truth, but this is beside the point, because the epistemological difference between the Trump era and the Soviet era is so vast. The Soviet Union was a system of lies, an empire of lies that endured only because it was enforced by terror. Lying was effective in the USSR. Trump, by contrast, does not scare anyone into repeating his version of reality, except for a handful of his personal appointees, and the only thing they fear is losing their jobs. Lying is not only ineffective for Trump; it causes him — not the country — substantial damage. The president is not the state. He has not created, and would not be able to create, a system of lies. He does not, to take a salient example, enjoy the ability to order Jim Acosta what to say about him. The Communist Party did not have this problem. After Chernobyl, it didn’t have to worry about whether state television was going to disseminate a message the Central Committee might find disobliging.