Elizabeth Spiers was formerly the Editor in Chief of The New York Observer, a weekly newspaper-turned-website most famous for a column on Manhattan society that became the basis for Sex in the City. One day in 2006, the young scion of a wealthy New Jersey family named Jared Kushner bought the Observer and set out to rehabilitate his disgraced family name.
Spiers worked closely with Kushner at times, as editors-in-chief often do with their publishers. During the height of the Trump-led “Birther Movement,” she had a conversation with her boss about how to cover it the national push for President Obama to release his birth certificate.
She recalled that conversation in a Facebook post response to someone attacking her for calling Donald Trump a liar – and it contained some startling revelations for his fans.
This first-person account helps explain one of the enduring mysteries of how Donald Trump won the White House.
The 2016 election cycle broke every rule, went against every pattern, and defied all conventional wisdom. Polls – and analysts’ reading of them – were wildly off. Existing political coalitions broke down. The establishments of both parties failed to measure the temperature of their base voters, who each connected with unlikely outsider candidates.
In the Republican party, that phenomenon manifested itself in something like a populist movement. At least that’s what it was billed as: a movement of average, God-fearing, Second Amendment-loving Americans left behind by globalization, left-out of the information age, and tired of being looked down upon by the big city elites.
That the movement caught fire isn’t a surprise. Modern conservatism has always had a virulent strain of nativism in it, and there has been much written about how globalization and internationalism have benefitted big cities and states at the expense people living in areas where traditional manufacturing jobs drove the economy.
That those same people would choose Donald Trump as their champion, however – a thrice-married, globalization-exploiting, big city elite par excellence – is an enduring mystery that no one has yet credibly explained. Until now.
The best explanation has always been the simplest, and Elizabeth Spiers has just confirmed it: Donald Trump won over middle America by telling them all of the things they wanted to hear – even things he didn’t believe himself, and things he knew to be false. In short, he lied to them. And is still lying to them.
President Trump will never stop lying. The question is, how much longer can Trump supporters keep lying to themselves?