In a speech this week in Florida, President Trump falsely claimed that, “You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID. You go out and you want to buy anything, you need ID and you need your picture.”
Some commentators have expressed surprise that a high Federal official would make a claim about an ID requirement for an everyday activity, when (1) that claim is false, and known to be false by all of the people who engage in that activity without having ID, (2) that claim is not based on any law or regulations, and (3) any such law or regulation would exceed the government’s authority and likely be subject to legal challenge.
Whether Pres. Trump is so out of touch with the reality of ID requirements that he made this claim in sincere ignorance, or whether he knew it was false, it comes as no surprise to us.
Rather, Pres. Trump’s false claim that you need ID to buy groceries is perfectly consistent with the pattern of lies about ID requirements by high Federal and state officials, especially the big lie that you need ID to fly.
Hundreds of people fly without ID every day, just as tens of millions of people every day buy groceries without showing ID. No current or proposed law or regulation requires air travelers to show ID, and any such law would be invalid as a violation of human rights recognized by the US Constitution and international treaties.
Claims by the Secretary of Homeland Security and state driver licensing agencies that you need (or will need) ID to fly are as baseless as Pres. Trump’s claim that you need ID to buy groceries. Anyone who has ever flown without ID — perhaps after their ID was lost or stolen, perhaps because they forgot their ID, or perhaps because they don’t have ID — knows that these claims are false.
But rather than questioning or fact-checking these baseless claims by the DHS and state agencies, or mocking the officials who make these false claims about ID to fly the way they have mocked Pres. Trump for his false claims about ID to buy groceries, major news media have reprinted this fake news about ID to fly as fact.
The real lesson to be learned from the obvious falsehood of Pres. Trump’s claims is that you can’t trust the government to tell you the truth about ID requirements or your rights. You need to know your rights, assert them, and be prepared to defend them in court — or the false government claim that you have no rights will become a self-fulfilling myth.
We hope that this incident leads more journalists and members of the public alike to question the truth and the legitimacy of government claims about ID “requirements”.