Quite a few people seem to be thinking that their prayers are saving humanity at the moment. In the UK, as the evidence stacks up that we were lied to about Brexit, a surprisingly high proportion of people are sticking to their guns and believing all the more fanatically that it is all going to somehow be magnificent.
To those of blind faith the pain of leaving is being interpreted as evidence of how badly those nasty Europeans really are and as extra evidence that we need to get out. A drop in the pound, a decline of our nation from 5th to 7th richest nation in the world and a nationally humiliating lack of countries seeking to do new trade deals with us is apparently not a cause for worry if you can convince yourself that with one bound we are about to make our nation great again. We’ve moved from being one of the fastest growing countries in the EU to one of the slowest but faith over rides evidence.
A similar refusal to accept the evidence in front of us exists amongst many on the left. They hear Corbyn promising us a jobs first Brexit. They hear him refuse to guarantee that Labour will keep us in the single market. They hear him firmly rule out a second referendum. Yet 80% of Labour voters who back Remain think Corbyn also does so. At the same time as 80% of Labour voters who back Leave believe – with considerably more evidence – that he supports that. Both sides can’t be right so a lot of Labour voters are deluding themselves. I suspect that the refusal to honestly insist that the final deal must go before the British public will come back to haunt Labour.
It is, however, in the US that the failure to face up to reality is hitting new heights. It is not necessary to read a book written by someone who observed his administration close up to know how childish Donald Trump is. You only have to read his twitter feed. It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to worry about a man who can send out a tweet saying “My button is bigger than your button” when dealing with an international crisis. Anyone who has ever been in a playground ought to be able to see through that. Similarly, if you are an American citizen battling with one of the plethora of climate related disasters that have struck the country this year then it ought to be pretty obvious that you need to worry about a President who looks at TV pictures of extreme cold and concludes that climate change doesn’t exist and we can let the oil companies drill wherever they want. The evidence is mounting up that the only measures Trump is serious about implementing are tax cuts and free gifts to dubious business enterprises. Then there is the staggering lack of real deep self-belief that propels him to inform us that he is a stable genius. Not exactly the kind of thing that would come from Einstein is it?
Instead of believing the evidence of their own twitter feeds quite large numbers of US citizens still refuse to accept that they’ve voted in a deeply immature man who has no intention of helping anyone other than himself and his business associates. They’d rather believe that the entire media are left wing fanatics printing fake news than that the person they voted is the fake.
It would be possible to get deeply depressed by this ability of some people to hold fast to beliefs that are obviously false. All the more so as I expect it to get a lot worse before it gets better, because irresponsibly giving away free money to the richest in society is highly likely to create a short-term boom which will see claims about Trump’s genius being peddled on both sides of the channel.
Fortunately, there is another important factor in play. The small religious group that predicted the end of the world may have redoubled their faith when they concluded that their prayers avoided it. The vast majority of those who didn’t share their blind faith simply concluded that they were wrong. And had a good laugh at the expense of their extraordinary stupidity.
You can fool some of the people some of the time. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Sooner or later reality has a helpful way of winning all its battles with blind faith. The majority of people in the US voted against Trump – by a margin of 3 million. Since then he has been losing support in shedloads with each new stupidity. It would be nice to think that each day he spends in office helps to completely finish off the far right in the States as a realistic political force for generations.
Or is that me choosing to believe in my own naïve faith instead of facing up to the full awfulness of reality?