What we believe can make things worse
I believe we’re about to witness the nastiest presidential campaign, based on misplaced emotions and falsehoods, in the nation’s history. Policy promises, normal for any election, will be elevated to center stage amid rumors and conspiracies and downright lies. Lies sell, right? And winning is everything.
Some believe Republicans are at fault
McKay Coppins noted in The Atlantic article, The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelct the President, he considers his recent experience with social media:
… in this state of heightened suspicion, truth itself—about Ukraine, impeachment, or anything else—felt more and more difficult to locate. With each swipe, the notion of observable reality drifted further out of reach.
The article, as the title indicates, points the accusatory finger at the Trump campaign. That’s where disinformation, the article claims, is formed and from where it is distributed. Obviously, the problem is entirely a Republican fault.
I’m not so sure.
It’s human to defend what we believe
While the disinformation problem is real and the promise of a highly contentious campaign is easy to predict, the fertile ground from which it grows is everyone. Call it a human flaw or a consequence of decades of media noise. We don’t know what to believe so we believe only what we want to.
It gets worse.
Not only do we believe what we want to, we ardently defend those beliefs even when confronted with truth and facts. We can grasp that the earth is not flat but can we be honest with ourselves that we don’t always know what’s true?
What Democrats believe also causes harm
Democrats may be frustrated with the presidential lies and exaggerations, enough to tear up speeches. Republicans may also be apoplectic when Democrats forget we are a republic. They can rightfully claim that it feels like their existential reality and personal liberties are being threatened.
For instance, Democrats choose to ignore obvious National Popular Vote (NPV) facts because they simply want to:
- NPV defies the U.S. Constitution.
- NPV ignores the sovereignty of states.
- NPV endangers vote representation in the Electoral College.
There’s more concern with NPV, but you get the idea. NPV adherents successfully disregard the facts and entice others to blindly follow, believing they’re being democratic. In truth, they’re inviting mayhem while disenfranchising voters.
The nation ignores voters
Democrats and Republicans alike ignore the fact that the winner-takes-all aspect of our presidential elections ignore, on average, 46% of the votes cast. For example, over 63 million votes were set aside without Electoral College representation in 2016. That’s a fact – it’s true – and it’s ignored (another fact).
What we believe reinforces our political bubbles
I’m guilty of living in a political bubble, just like my fellow human friends. It’s true. What’s worse, however, is that I believe I’m right and that those who don’t agree are wrong. My belief system encourages me to ignore media noise that does not concur with my hunches, my emotions, my “take” on what is happening. At times, I mentally hide.
It’s a reflex we all share and must take into account during these turbulent and dangerous times. It’s a human thing to do. We protect our own and continue to survive because, largely, we defend what we believe.
It’s often said that our nation is a melting pot wherein we merge our cultures and ideas and perspectives. I think it’s more of a wish than a reality. Check it out yourself. Are you comfortable associating, even in a rather public way, with those unlike yourself? How often do you ask others who do not agree with you why they think they way they do, honestly wanting to know? It’s much safer and easier to remain in our comfort zones.
We believe what we want to believe.
Democracy requires us to listen to each other
Jay Nordlinger, reporting in the National Review, about Speech for All, quotes Chicago professor Geoffrey R. Stone regarding being open to other views:
You have to learn to be open-minded and to listen to people you disagree with, try to put yourself in their shoes, understand why they feel the way they do, see the world through their perspectives, and then talk to them about it, and try to reason, instead of just automatically dismissing everything people say when they disagree with you. I think we’re in a serious moment in our history right now where that core value of how a democracy functions is at risk.
Professor Stone is correct. We’re in a dangerous time and our democracy is at risk. It’s not because we lack ideas or patriotism or fervor over policies. No, it’s because we are learning to not trust each other! When trust dissipates, so does respect and concern and, yes, that thing called brotherly love. We need to melt more, trust more, and exercise a more inclusive democracy.
Our national melting pot has cooled and its contents (we the people) are gelling into distinct camps, tribes, factions, and easily identified “others”.
This concern is at the heart of what Equal Voice Voting (EVV) is all about. EVV rests on the idea that democracy is inclusive and that all votes matter. Every vote cast for a viable presidential candidate deserves representation in the Electoral College. When voters and politicians wave their banner of fear and deny voting results, either by suppressing a voter’s access to the ballot box or tossing aside a vote once it’s cast, democracy suffers.
I believe this is true. This is how I see it. Don’t we all agree?
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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team