The Truth Matters…At Least It Should. 

Like most people during the election cycle of 2016 I was sure that Hillary Clinton was going to be our next Commander In Chief. In my mind Donald J Trump being selected as the republican nominee was the answer to my prayers. This was a man that took the birther movement to new heights and even questioned the academic qualifications of the first African American U.S President. He conducted himself in a crude and insulting manner during primaries and to say he played fast and loose with the facts would be an understatement. He insulted veterans, minorities ,the disabled and women. I felt certain that a nation that elected an African American twice to the White House was ready to send Washington it’s first Female President. I especially felt confident of it in the wake of released audio of the soon to be president openly bragging about sexually assaulting women. I asked myself how can a guy that insulted every important voting demographic get elected. I was confident Clinton would win and I would have bet my life on it.
All of that optimism and hope came to a screeching halt on November 8, 2016. Watching the early results trend in Trump’s direction and never turning back filled me with a sense of disbelief and angst. All of the nearly impossible scenarios that I and others thought Trump needed was slowly coming to pass. My initial feelings of shock and despair finally turned to that of grudging acceptance. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the lady I thought was a shoo in for the presidency, lost. Donald J Trump was the President Elect and America had just entered a strange new age of politics.
In the immediate days following the election there was no shortage of questions and theories of why the seemingly impossible happened. Political pundits offered a slew of reasons ranging from the ineffectiveness of the Clinton campaign to the genius of the Trump message to the ignorance of urban America regarding the plight of rural white America. Whatever reasons history decides is the right one the one point that has asserted itself to me is the fact that the truth has somehow become a victim in our political discourse. Concurrent to that fact is the undeniable failing of journalism.
When I was a little boy, CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS seemed to be the standard bearer of news. I had the impression that news was largely vetted and generally accepted as true. Whether you were a democrat or a republican there was an agreed upon set of facts that most reasonable people didn’t dispute. After serving some time in the the army I became interested in politics again. The election of George W Bush fascinated me to no end and around that time I started watching FOX news and shows like the O’Reilly Factor. I also started listening to right wing radio and from that I quickly began to understand concept of bias in reporting. I Figured out which programs had a conservative bend and which ones were more liberal leaning.
In 2008,with the election of Barack Obama my ideas of political leanings and biases were completely blown away. A candidate that I admired and wanted to emulate was called the most vile and disgusting things I’ve ever heard a president called. The fact that these things were said about Obama wasn’t the issue. The issue was the fact that the “news” media gave credence to the most ridiculous of these claims. President Obama is an American citizen and yet news outlets treated claims of him not being so as credible. When Governor Palin suggested that Obamacare included “death panels” the news treated that as a legitimate concern. When it was suggested that the President was a Muslim, the news treated it as an assertion that should be respected.
There was a time when the news industry was not as profit driven as it is now. It seems now that the truth is a lesser priority than ratings. The need to be sensational and first is more important than being accurate because above all, ratings trumps everything. This has only been exasperated by the simultaneous rise of social media being many people’s primary news source. Everyone with a Facebook or a Twitter account is now effectively a broadcaster. Everyone is now a broadcaster with no journalistic imperative to verify and vet what they published. This state of being is not good for our democracy and I believe that this is unsustainable.
When politicians lie and those lies are allowed to fester and grow then no one benefits. Science, reason and facts should always drive policy, not half truths and misinformation. Science has proven for decades that vaccinations save lives. If our elected officials don’t respect the science of vaccinations and don’t provide for the funding of them then people will die. We are all unsafe. Most scientists believe that human activity causes global warming and that can have dire consequences for humanity. If we continue to not address this problem, because elected officials don’t respect the science of climate change, then we run the risk of doing irreparable harm to our world. Politicians suggesting we ban flights to countries with certain disease outbreaks does not actually prevent those diseases from spreading around the globe and potentially harming Americans.
No one benefits from ignorance and willful stupidity. Ultimately I feel it’s the fault of the citizens for electing individuals like this and not holding them accountable in subsequent elections. An apathetic mindset and a pathological belief that nothing can be done is the best way to make sure nothing ever gets done. Allowing stupid and misinformed people to guide our national dialogue leads us to a place where we get Donald Trump as the President of the United States. A man that puts the word of the Russian President over the word of his own intelligence community. Donald Fucking Trump. Really?
So what do we do? I believe the best route is to take a grass roots approach. I am going to try to share as much truthful information as I can. I am going to try to not be insulting to people that do not agree with me. I am going to vote, encourage others to vote and help people to register for the vote. I am going to promote issues(local and national) that I find important. And finally I am going to perform some sort of community service.
As President Obama said in his final address to the nation “Because for all our outward differences, in fact, share the same proud title, most important office in a democracy:Citizen.” As a citizen the ultimate responsibility for the state of our politics fall on our shoulders. We can no longer expect our elected officials to act in an altruistic manner. We must recognize that their power to govern us comes from our consent. Giving this fact, it is incumbent upon us to take a more active role in shaping the landscape of our politics. We must roll up our sleeves, get in the trenches and engage in those things that are not glamorous or garners the attention of the press. Most importantly we must communicate with and engage with those that we have elected to represent us.
This is my pledge to myself and my fellow citizens. I respectfully ask and challenge others to join me in this.By working together we can all work to make this a more perfect union. As President Obama is found of quoting “ E Pluribus Unum,Out of many one.” If many of us join together and speak and act as one, there is no limit on what we can accomplish.

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