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When Did Political Facts Become Irrelevant In America?

January 6, 2016

I ended 2015 in the way I tried to spend much of the year.  That is by having a great conversation with someone who had far more experience and background concerning topics of which I have an interest.

While at a New Year’s Eve Party I talked for over a half-hour with a woman I had just met about her work at the CDC in Atlanta and her recent research at UW-Madison.  To underscore how great the conversation was I need mention we were really rather close to an amazing array of food spread out on a large table and never had a bite until we moved on to talk with others in the house.   (She already has an invite for summer chats on the front lawn.)

We waded into the political fights over funding programs while working to alert the country on what needed to be prioritized.  We both stressed the same point that this nation is no longer in agreement over what constitutes facts.   And how sad it that!

No matter what the topic may be there seems to be the facts that the records and evidence supports, and then those ‘facts’ which are created by others for political theatre.

I have long argued that this nation no longer starts at the same foundation when talking about current events.  As a teenager it was Walter Cronkite who reported the news stories that impacted our lives.  He reported the headlines of the day, and stated to get a deeper understanding one should turn to their morning newspapers.

As an adult it is very clear as to why ‘Uncle Walter’ mattered so much.  He allowed for a sense of commonality to guide us as to what the basic facts were to the news events that made up our world.

Today we have an entire news network designed to create a whole set of ‘facts’ to be followed up with the hour-after-hour distortion teams cranking out misinformation on conservative talk radio.    I probably should not be then surprised that fact-checkers are looked at with disdain this campaign cycle when trying to correct the false record spun by presidential candidates.

The reason I bring this to my blog tonight is that Donald Trump “described voter fraud as a rampant problem” recently at a political rally.   The facts are of course that the number of proven cases of election fraud is simply minuscule.  That fact is not liberal or conservative, Republican or Democratic.

Rather it is just a fact that voting fraud in this nation is not a problem and instead is a political tool that is designed to be used for partisanship.

Trump went on to add to his falsehood–with his less than bright mobs cheering his every utterance–that  “this voting system is out of control. You have people, in my opinion, that are voting many, many times”

For those of us who are serious about things that matter it is disturbing to see the uneducated and less informed in the land be used as an echo chamber to promote some partisan loudmouth.  I will be the first to say that tactic does work–just look at the numbers who fill up a rally site for Trump.  Or the poll numbers that seemingly reflect his standing in the Republican Party.

But what does this say about the nation we live in?  Or the type of country we will leave to our children?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. tom permalink
    January 7, 2016 9:20 PM

    Doug: I am basing my comments on the report of the Milwaukee Police Department in 2004 which detailed the types of “irregularities” which in their conclusion could only point to wide-spread voter fraud. The report details many, many instances, for example, where more ballots were cast than voters who cast votes. It goes on to detail a long list of similar “irregularities.” After the report, the investigators were removed from the investigation.

    But in the end, I know it is a cherished cornerstone of liberal self-image to believe that you are smarter and better informed and more moral than anyone else. Enjoy that. If you really cared about “facts” or the “truth,” you would banish Hillary from your party after the many lies she told on the email scandal. But you will look the other way and tell yourself stuff like “the truth matters” and “process matters.” WE are all hypocrites, my friend.

    I am no fan of Trump. I never need to justify or rationalize anything he says. He is no part of any conservatism I know.

  2. Doug Swanson permalink
    January 7, 2016 12:08 PM

    Tom, no to say something is proven (no quotes) is not misleading. Proven supposes that real evidence, actual recorded and reviewed analysis can be and has been done to show something is true. In your example the number of robberies committed based on your definition would not be proven. Why? Because statistical science has already shown (i.e., proven) that for most crimes there are a number committed before someone is caught. That evidence is overwhelming, entirely repeatable. So someone that can think critically would look at your example and shake their head. But there’s the problem. There are precious few people that can think critically. Just as there are precious few people that care to learn or are willing to listen to anything that might challenge what they already believe. And that is why opinion is now labeled as fact.

  3. January 7, 2016 10:44 AM

    Peter,

    That example you raise is also a great example of the way a lie can be repeated so “the uneducated and less informed in the land be used as an echo chamber”. In a classroom such antics would not be allowed and a failing grade would be given. In the GOP such behavior is applauded.

  4. January 7, 2016 10:41 AM

    You are making my case about facts and the modern Republican Party. Take the voter issues raised in the post. In Wisconsin there was not one single Republican who was able to stand up in the legislature during floor debate and produce any court cases, judge’s rulings, or names of those who cast fraudulent votes. If there was such rampant voting abuses why did the attorney general not intervene? Why are there no election officials calling out for changes if the abuses were running wild?

    The rare times when someone votes twice–let us say at a new home and their old one–does get discovered due to the process that has long been in place. There are no examples where more than a mere handful of faulty ballots have been cast in any election cycle.

    Those are the facts. To try and spin or confuse otherwise puts you front and center as to what I am talking about in my post.

    The reason is that the GOP spun voter fraud as a means to undermine Democratic voting, not due to any voter fraud problem that needed a remedy. The lack of any court records or media reporting of such election abuses around the state underscores the lack of credibility for the Republicans with this issue.

  5. tom permalink
    January 7, 2016 8:53 AM

    Some would argue that the word “proven” is misleading. It is like looking at the number of convictions for robbery as the definitive number of robberies committed. While it is true that politicians hype and distort facts to suit their agendas, your suggestion that this is a conservative trait is laughable and pathetic.

    A famous politician once said “it depends on what the definition of “is” is.”

  6. January 7, 2016 8:49 AM

    Well, and our President is a Communist Muslim from Kenya, don’t ya know.

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