Mid-Term Elections: Hannah Arendt on Lies and Politics

It has been said that the head of the church of Donald J. Trump deserves the title of “Liar in chief” because journalists have counted over 36,000 lies he told as president.  And a few more lies have followed since he was deposed and voted out of office.

A step-by-step guide to debunking the “Big Lie.” CNN on YouTube.

This includes a new term that has entered our country’s vocabulary– the “Big Lie,” which refers to a very foundational falsehood, namely that President Biden did not win the presidential election of 2020. President Biden is not the president.  The head of the church of Donald J. Trump (CODT) is.

But this has been disproven by countless judges (including a number appointed by Mr. Trump); and the congressional committee examining the January 6 insurrection; and secretaries of state who count votes, and even Trump’s former attorney general. AND it has been debunked by many witnesses in the White House who have testified under oath that they heard Trump admit he lost the election. Yet he persists in lying about it to the public.  What are the consequences of big lies like that?

Hannah Arendt–political philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor, 1933. Wikimedia Commons.

Hannah Arendt is held in high esteem for her studies on fascism including The Human Condition, The Origins of Totalitarianism, Eichmann in Jerusalem, and On Revolution.  In a recent book containing two of her essays called On Lying and Politics, she alerts us to how there is an “ever-present threat to democracy posed by lying.”  Democracy depends on some commonly held beliefs and truths.  One might be that “all men and women are created equal.” 

In her essay on “Truth and Politics,” Arendt observes that the survival of factual truth depends on the testimony of credible witnesses and on an informed citizenry.  When facts are degraded into opinions, liars may even come to believe their own fabrications.

But something even deeper is involved when political leaders lie.  Arendt tells us that cynicism is born of lies.  The surest long-term result of brainwashing is a peculiar kind of cynicism—an absolute refusal to believe in the truth of anything, no matter how well this truth may be established. 

Trailer of documentary “The Spirit of Hannah Arendt.” Final line? “She has become like a prophet out of the Hebrew Bible.” YouTube.

Apparently “alternative facts” carry a price with them.

In addition, Arendt warns us that the result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lies will now be accepted as truth, and the truth be defamed as lies, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world —and the category of truth vs. falsehood is among the mental means to this end—is being destroyed.

This is what the mid-term election is about.

See Hannah Arendt, On Lying and Politics with an Introduction by David Bromwich (NY: A Library of America,, 2022), p. 47.

See Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 101-108.

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner image: Tattered flag. Image by Tammie from Pixabay

Queries for Contemplation

What does it mean to you to learn that lying is not just an offense against the truth, but also destroys “the sense by which we take our bearings in the world?”  How does that apply to our post-truth politics and the media that supports it?  And to the current election?

Recommended Reading

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

6 thoughts on “Mid-Term Elections: Hannah Arendt on Lies and Politics”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Today we admit that Donald J. Trump deserves the title of “Liar in chief.” Journalists have counted over 36,000 lies he told as president. The “Big Lie” refers to a very foundational falsehood, namely that President Biden did not win the presidential election of 2020. President Biden is not the president. Hannah Arendt was a political philosopher and the author of such books as, The Origins of Totalitarianism, and On Revolution. In a recent book containing two of her essays called On Lying and Politics, she alerts us to how there is an “ever-present threat to democracy posed by lying.” Arendt also tells us that cynicism is born of lies. The surest long-term result of “fake news”—an absolute refusal to believe in the truth of anything, no matter how well this truth may be established.
    Joseph Goebbels, head of Hitler’s propaganda ministry, gave the German people a continual stream of “fake news” and look what it ended in doing. And so, “Yes,” lying destroys “the sense by which we take our bearings in the world?” How does this apply to the current election? The same way it applies to every election, and that is the need to have the truth so that we can vote informed and intelligently.

  2. Avatar

    The country is reaping the results of Trumps lies. We knew many years ago that his accusations about Obama’s birth place was a falsehood. Unfortunately, the media and his followers , many church leaders and even Democrats were afraid to boldly confront him. So , he was elected and continued to lie. Even today he lies. The trail of lies stretches for over six years. Many of us were never duped by him. Many were . Our governmental system cannot continue under the present circumstances. It may be too late as the Big Lie now has a life of its own.

  3. Avatar

    Today’s query causes me to reflect on the question and henceforth leads me to attempt to define the “senses by which we take our bearings in the world.” There appears to me, to be within the consciousness of humanity, an over-emphasis on using one’s intellect, reasoning, rationalizations, and logical and conceptual thinking processes; with regards to discerning truth vs lying. There also appears to me, to be an oppression, suppression and condemnation within the consciousness of humanity, of usings one’s intuition, imagination, contemplative self-reflection and the emergence of creativity; which I identify with as womb wisdom processes, in regards to discerning truth vs lying. ALL of these senses, when respected and honored as apart of the processes by which we take our bearings in this world… can lead us to a much fuller, broader and expansive pathway of discerning truth vs lying. Through reflecting on todays query, I define these senses by which we take our bearings in the world, as the souls journey of traversing the transformational pathway of participating in the unfolding, evolving and emerging consciousness of this sacred union of diversity and unity… the marriage of the mind and the womb, which takes place in the heart… from which the totality of truth can be discerned, removing the veils of lies, which tempt to deceive.

  4. Avatar

    The attributes or essence of God’s Spirit are All intimately interrelated/interconnected — Divine Love~Life~Wisdom~Truth~Peace~Justice~Sorrow~Healing~Forgiveness~Compassion~
    Transformation~Creativity~Beauty~Joy~Oneness… We all need this Divine Spirit of Loving Diverse Oneness and Presence on our eternal spiritual journeys within ourselves, with one another, and with All Life within God’s co-Creation~Evolution on Earth and in the Cosmos….

  5. Avatar

    What if lying about who won an election, is only the tip of the iceberg? What if the people on the Far Right are lying when they convey the impression that they care about election results at all? What if what they really want is to do away with democracy itself? Opus Dei may not be the greatest threat to our way of life or so this article leads me to believe: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/23373795/curtis-yarvin-neoreaction-redpill-moldbug?fbclid=IwAR3AS3VFhwIWzOiRDTiTDrVtsJFzQmiulqLFhwFH-d637SxeyE6eMh-er0o

  6. Avatar

    The devil is called the Father of lies somewhere in the Bible, and lies are the foundation of evil. People cannot take their bearings in the world, and cynicism results, which causes apathy in some, confusion in some, fear in all, and into this vacuum come the autocrats, who foment violence in order to create even more chaos and to have an excuse for ever more repressive measures. Democracy is precious but messy, like life. If not enough people wake up and fight for it, it’s gone. Democrats have been complicit in basically ignoring the signs for decades and profiting from campaign “donations” also from dark money. It was the southern Democrats who fought bitterly against civil rights. I repeat that we may have to engage in civil disobedience as well as other prayerful action. Unless there are some miracles, the darkness is here to stay, for at least a while. The recent attack on Nancy Pelosi and her husband, the shamelessness of those of foment such violence, are deeply disturbing events, but only the latest is the hate campaign that takes it fuel from lies.

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: