Once upon a time, back in distant past of 2004, Karl Rove (the Steve Bannon of his day) spun a fairy tale about how reality was under his control.
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
It's a rather heady idea, being free from the constraints of empirical reality. The economy can be molded any way you see fit! World politics will bend to your will! The universe is yours to command! Nothing bad will ever happen because you say it won't!
Fast forward to 2016 and "post truth" is the Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year. Donald has spent the last year and a half lying about everything from how much money he is to how much he weighs. And now, we're right back to the right wing thinking that reality is overrated.
In an interview on The Diane Rehm Show, one of Donald's surrogates, Scott Nell Hughes, channeled her inner Rove:
"Well, I think it's also an idea of an opinion. And that's—on one hand, I hear half the media saying that these are lies. But on the other half, there are many people that go, 'No, it's true.' And so one thing that has been interesting this entire campaign season to watch, is that people that say facts are facts—they're not really facts. Everybody has a way—it's kind of like looking at ratings, or looking at a glass of half-full water. Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth, or not truth. There's no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.
"And so Mr. Trump's tweet, amongst a certain crowd—a large part of the population—are truth. When he says that millions of people illegally voted, he has some—amongst him and his supporters, and people believe they have facts to back that up. Those that do not like Mr. Trump, they say that those are lies and that there are no facts to back it up."
Translation: Reality is what Donald says it is and his followers believe him so that's how it is now. It's obvious Donald himself believes this because that's how he's lived his entire life. He's always surrounded himself with sycophants and yes men that tell him exactly what he wants to hear at all times.
But that's not controlling reality, that's creating a fantasy world to live in. And no one, not even the Mighty Donald can make that fantasy a reality on a national scale.
Just like Karl Rove once believed that he was one of "history's actors" that forged their own reality, Trump and his cronies are going to discover that one key element that will bring them to ruin: Actual Reality.
You remember Actual Reality, don't you? Actual Reality has a track record of raining on the GOP's parade:
Republicans once thought that the largest tax cut on the rich in world history would kick the economy into overdrive. Actual Reality said, "Fuck you, enjoy your historic recession."
Republicans once thought they could privatize Social Security. Actual Reality said, "Fuck you, your own voters will crucify you."
Republicans once thought they could invade the Middle East and usher in a new age of American Colonialism. Actual Reality said, "Fuck you, enjoy your 21st century Vietnam."
And so it went. Republicans arrogantly enacted policies that would lead to utter disaster, confident in the knowledge that the Titanic was unsinkable. And so it will be with Donald. Once his incoherent policies send the economy into a tailspin, people are going to start demanding answers. He'll bluff and bluster and shout and blame immigrants but that will only last for so long. Eventually, Actual Reality has the final say. It always does.
And the left will have to be ready to pick up the pieces again when history repeats itself.