Tyranny expert blames 'small lies' that built to 'big' ones and eventually Trump's insurrection
Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a "Make America Great Again" campaign rally at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Goodyear, Arizona. (Gage Skidmore)

In an interview with historian Timothy Snyder, CNN's Ana Cabrera noted that Americans have been watching the country slowly go down the path of violence for the past several years. She asked Snyder how far America has gone "down the road" of tyranny, but Snyder explained it isn't as simple as that.

"It's not a road," he said. "It's an open field. And there are many different ways you can turn. It was never a sure thing that we will be a democracy and not a sure thing we will turn away from democracy. What I would say what happened on January 6th was in the cards a long time before January 6th. We chose a president who doesn't believe in choosing presidents. We had a man in office for four years who told small lies; medium-sized lies until he finally got to the big lie. When the big lie is told, we see that Americans are no worse, no better than anyone else. We act just like everyone else."

The optimistic part, he said, is that there is now an opportunity to rebuild. "We know there is nothing automatic about being a city on a hill," he explained. "You have to build. You have to climb that hill, and you have to build that city. That I think is our chance to recognize that this is a moment where we could actually create a better democracy. We can't rely on the past. There's a future we have to create."

He explained that history has shown that the lie will outlive the liar. In the case of the lie about the election, there's an opportunity for Republicans, "who have been mealy-mouthed about this," Snyder said, to start speaking the truth again. What the country needs in the long-term, is honesty in the local news.

"What has happened to us is we've lost the little truths all around us along with the local news, and that vacuum gets filled up with a big lie, with the attractiveness of a big lie from a great distance," he said.

Watching videos of the insurrectionists while they are on the House and Senate floor, they spoke about helping Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who joined Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) in staging the overthrow of the 2020 election.

Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) attacked Cruz, saying that he should be denied entry to the inauguration given his efforts to promote the insurrection.

"Mr. Trump never could have spread the big lie on his own without Mr. Cruz, without Mr. Hawley," said Snyder. "Without a number of other Republicans, that big lie would have never made it out of November into where we are now. No. 2, if you are a legislator, if you were elected and then you call elections into question, you're inviting an attack on the people's house. You're inviting an attack on the Capitol. That is exactly what those Senators and Congressmen did who doubted the election. So, I think there really is a point here. The final point is that people who call into question American elections, what they're asking for is another chance for themselves. It didn't work in 2020 but maybe it'll work in 2024 to lose an election, cry fraud, and then ask for violence. That has to be cut off now. And so the point about Mr. Cruz and by the way also about Mr. Hawley, I think is a very strong one."

See the interview below:

Tyranny expert blames 'small lies' for the march toward Trump's 'big lie' leading to an insurrection www.youtube.com