We here in the USA are living in truly strange times. Our country is more divided that I can ever recall it being and we take all philosophical disagreement as direct insults to our honor. I’m old enough to remember when a Congress Critter who was willing and able to “go across the aisle” to get something done was celebrated. Now that would get you crucified on the 6 o clock news!
And that brings me to one thing that really worries me- the sudden rise in declaring anything that you don’t agree with as “fake news”, or its cousin the “alternative fact”.
We have a two party system in our country for a reason – to stimulate debate. Granted, I think it needs to be at least three parties, but for now two is what we have. There are many issues that the two parties differ on and most of them are differences in philosophy- such as the role of the federal government in state’s issues or in environmental issues, immigration etc. etc. Neither side has a corner on facts here because the debate is over opinions. We have been, and will forever be, debating on the best policies based on what we feel is best. Sure, we can find numbers that seem to support one view over another, but the heart of the difference between our two parties comes down to opinions.
However, there are things that, no matter who tells you otherwise, are facts. The temperature of the Earth is a fact. We can debate why the temperature is what is it is (although in reality that’s pretty well settled too), but the temperature itself is a fact. The number of people attending any presidential inauguration is a fact. There are simple ways to measure it and the measuring he done by folks who do that for a living. Again, you can argue why more people were at this one or that one, but that doesn’t change the actual data. Another fact- most recent Presidents didn’t have their cabinets in fully in place until March, Obama not until April. Like it or not, it’s well documented and 100% true.
Another fact- a newspaper, TV station, etc. that puts forth a story you don’t like, or that paints someone you admire in a poor light- is not automatically broadcasting “fake news” in spite of our current President insisting otherwise. Yes, MSMBC leans liberal and yes, Fox News leans conservative and yes they can and do spin stories to their liking. But facts are still facts. Numbers don’t lie. Historical dates and landmarks are still the same as they were last year and perhaps 100 years ago. All the speeches and tweets and executive orders in the world don’t make cold, hard data anything else or anything less.
As citizens it is our responsibility to hold our elected officials to high standards. We need to demand that they represent us honorably and well. We need to demand that they admit that yes, sometimes their colleagues across the aisle can and will also have good ideas. We need to demand that they spend less time worrying about getting reelected and more time actually doing the job we elected them to do. We need to demand that they stop acting like children anytime someone writes a story they don’t like. And most of all, we need to demand that we are given the chance, after hearing ALL sides of any news story, to make up our own minds. Anything less and we are selling ourselves short as Americans.