I didn’t get out much the last half of February and much of March so, as I recovered from my surgery. I watched a lot of television, read a lot of news and opinions. Much of it was fueled by people campaigning for president, and its tough to sort through the bombardment so many self-serving lies and exaggerations.
It’s as if politics itself has become reality television, which means it isn’t real at all.
Two of Donald Trump’s adult children, Ivanka and Eric, did not vote for their father in the New York Primary because they missed the registration deadline. In Ivanka’s case, she apparently didn’t realize that you had to be a Republican to vote in a closed Republican Primary and did not change her registration. This is the same Ivanka who headed the Trump Campaign get-out-the-vote effort, urging people in previous primaries to register and do their civic duty.
You can’t make this stuff up.
It seems that too many Americans will continue to believe what they want to believe and not what the facts tell them. That includes, temperature change, which has been validated by science again and again, but an amazing high percentage of us still cling to this as some kind of conspiracy. How this became a political issue— a conservative cause in some ways— mystifies me. I guess it all goes back to Al Gore and that movie of his, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
We cling to negative beliefs about public figures despite evidence to the contrary, More than half of registered Republicans, for example, still believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Why this is important for them is unclear, because they sure have lots of other reasons for not liking him.
There is, of course, America’s version of national health care, ObamaCare, which is almost impossible to understand, in terms of strengths and flaws, because the political climate surrounding it is red hot. It runs the gamut from abject failure to much needed protection for millions of Americans. The truth about ObamaCare is still being assessed, it seems. Some will never accept it out of principle.
Rand Paul, for instance, has offered the opinion that government-sponsored health care is no different than slavery. Slavery was an evil and illegal system that almost destroyed this country, resulting in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in the Civil War. These kinds of extreme observations fuel a political climate in which compromise seldom seems to be an option.
Whatever your feelings about how we should deal with health care in this country, we need our elected representatives to take a studied view and drop all the crazy rhetoric and posturing. It’s even all right to change your mind. Donald Trump did. Before running for President, he favored the Canadian-style universal health care approach.
Gun control continues to be one of the most divisive issues in this country, but there are some truths that need to be accepted as the debate continues. We continue to hear that gun violence is greatest in the countries with the strictest gun laws. That is not supported by any known statistics, say bipartisan fact-checkers. There is one aspect of the gun-control argument in which an overwhelming percentage of Americans are in agreement. They support background checks.
Here’s an example of how there are so many different ways to analyze statistics. Columnist Nicholas Kristof was the subject of much discussion when he made the following claim last year: “More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on all battlefields of all wars in American history.”
That’s got to be outright fiction or exaggeration. Right? Turns out that he is right. Again, relying on comprehensive research by PunditFact, firearm-related deaths in the United States since 1968 total 1,516,863. War deaths, starting with the Revolutionary War and through Afghanistan and Iraq, total 1,396,733. That includes using a Civil War death tally of 750,000 to accommodate a certain percentage of unreported deaths, though the toll usually cited is 620,000.
So do you interpret this as a rousing argument for more stringent gun control or as an irrelevant comparison? There are certainly more things to consider than those two totals. For one thing, homicides accounted for only a third of those firearms-related deaths. There were almost twice as many suicides in that total. Is that a fair comparison? How many would have killed themselves were they forced to use something other than a gun.
Broad comparisons can be misleading even when the numbers are accurate.
I think people are more concerned about how they are going to survive financially and what the future holds for them, their children and grandchildren. In a June 2015 article in the Washington Post, Hunter Schwarz put it all in perspective when he reported that 47 percent of all Americans “can’t pay for an unexpected $400 expense, through savings or credit cards, without selling something or borrowing money.” This was verified by Federal Reserve Board surveys.
That means that too many of us are flirting with some kind of financial calamity when seemingly petty debts arise. These are the realities we need to face, and it’s time for them to be seriously addressed by those running for office.