Trump grasped that America is suffering from an epistemological weakness as well as economic ones: The line between truth and falsehood is becoming dangerously blurred. ... America’s knowledge elite is partly responsible for this: Armies of postmodern academics had prepared the way for Trump by arguing that truth is a construct of the power elite. But the biggest culprit is technological progress. Digitalization is not only creating a deafening cacophony of voices. It is also making it harder to finance real journalism while simultaneously making it easier to distribute tripe.
United States’ democracy ... is based on knowing the difference between truth and lies. Truth leads to democracy, lies lead to dictatorship and this is where I think people, whether it’s the president or people around him, are not fully aware of the real impact of what they’re saying. It drives wedges between people, and if anything, these recent elections have told us that the population has become so polarized that people can be affected by lies that are peddled and empty promises that are made, tribalistic policies that are rammed down people’s throats, and you have to be really, really careful.
To function well, democratic constitutions must be reinforced by two basic norms, or unwritten rules. The first is mutual toleration, according to which politicians accept their opponents as legitimate. When mutual toleration exists, we recognize that our partisan rivals are loyal citizens who love our country just as we do.
The second norm is forbearance, or self-restraint in the exercise of power. Forbearance is the act of not exercising a legal right. In politics, it means not deploying one’s institutional prerogatives to the hilt, even if it’s legal to do so.