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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/8/16

Left v. Right Pt 2

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As I wrote this draft, several weeks before posting it here, The Huffington Post reported it had done the following after an Anderson Cooper-moderated town hall meeting with Donald Trump at the end of March:

... assigned five and a half reporters to look into a roughly 12,000-word transcript of Trump's town hall event on CNN the night before. It took us hours, but in all, we found 71 separate instances in which Trump made a claim that was inaccurate, misleading or deeply questionable. That's basically one falsehood every 169 words (counting the words uttered by moderator Anderson Cooper), or 1.16 falsehoods every minute (the town hall lasted an hour, including commercial breaks).

The Huffington Post article then listed all 71 of those Trump comments. Impressive? Perhaps. But since it has become such a commonplace occurrence with The Donald, the shock value has lost a bit of luster. Good thing he's not promoting this nonsense as a platform for anything important....That he has captured the imagination of countless millions is astonishing and disturbing.

I subjected myself to a few minutes of that abundant nonsense--sadly, not limited to that one episode--and quickly found myself once again horrified by his political ignorance and the ceaseless, shameless promotion of how truly wonderful he believes Donald Trump to be. That was enough for me! This is a Presidential caliber individual?!

Sadly--unfortunately--it was Trump being Trump. Trump being Trump under ordinary circumstances is unpalatable and incomprehensible. But as the presumptive Republican Party nominee? Yikes! Is it too late to hope that voters start paying attention and thinking things through?

A narcissistic demagogue as clueless as is humanly possible about both national and international policies,
practices, standards, and relationships has somehow managed to excite millions of Americans by an almost nonstop stream of misstatements, adolescent--dangerous--button-pushing, fabrications, and pseudo-facts. This is now the standard for national political office? Not just any political office, either. He's a President of the United States finalist!

Legions of angry, low-information voters are being pandered to by Trump's seemingly bottomless supply of tough-guy yapping, lies, and embarrassing, laughable nonsense! What are the likely consequences when it becomes clear to them that these tactics are the sum total of Trump policy? Hello?!

What kind of bubble are these supporters counting will descend from the heavens to protect them from the unthinkable outcomes originating from his threats and mindless proposals? Shouldn't some introspection filter in right about now so that the legion of fawning voters enamored with his "telling-it-like-it-is" aura might realize that The Donald's platform--such as it is--carries a host of damaging and dangerous outcomes.

Shouldn't that matter at least a little?

[M]uch like sports fans, political fans tend to evaluate new information in a highly biased way. They overvalue anything that supports their preexisting views, and to undervalue or ignore new data that cuts against them, even to the extent of misinterpreting simple data that they could easily interpret correctly in other contexts. Moreover, those most interested in politics are also particularly prone to discuss it only with others who agree with their views, and to follow politics only through like-minded media.

Trump's candidacy and the level of enthusiastic support for it should eliminate any doubt that this observation by Princeton University's Larry M. Bartels was--while unkind, to be sure--an accurate one: "the political ignorance of the American voter is one of the best documented data in political science." How sad for all of us! How deeply disturbing for all of us....

We have choices.

Do we recognize, respect, and allow for political and personality differencess and then work cooperatively to address the challenges (as did the generations before us)? Or do we just shrug our shoulders and do nothing because we've decided to treat the differences as insurmountable barriers [or easy justifications for directing our animosities]? One very frightening consequence of that latter choice raises the possibility of Donald Trump in the White House.

A pause to consider how that plays out would be a wise choice for starters.

Adapted from a blog post.

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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)

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