I am a sports content creator, but I am also a human being with thoughts that expand outside of sports. #StickToSports is some awful thing that awful people come up with when they hear things they do not like said to them by sports people. Considering this space is completely my own, I can do whatever I want with it, so I am. As if this needed to be said, my opinions do not represent my employer, any future employers and any past employers. They are mine, based on observations of things I've seen, read and felt.
I would classify myself as a casual observer of the political world. I admit to keeping abreast of what's going on by watching The Daily Show, but I also read articles from various newspapers and magazines on a fairly regular basis. I by no means am an expert, but I also don't know nothing. I try to listen more than I speak, but sometimes being a part of the conversation can help advance it. So, today, I decided to empty my brain after eight years of fear-mongering, blatant political posturing and counter-productive politics came to ahead in Cleveland.
The Republican National Convention has concluded with Donald Trump as their official nominee for President, and the person who made the most sense during it was none other than Ted Cruz, a politician widely despised on both sides of the aisle. What a time to be alive.
The horrifically sad thing about this campaign is that it is a campaign, and thus inherently political. Lumping human rights issues and civil rights issues in with economic policy seems wrong to me. In a way, that's a battle over semantics. Of course those are political issues, in that they are affected by policy. The problem is making them political puts them on political "sides" and more than ever, whichever side you're on does not allow for issue-based flexibility. The thought that one could truly be a social liberal and fiscal conservative is no longer allowed in our political system because the NRA, Wall Street and other lobbyist groups that control the money won't allow it. The result is two completely homogenous groups that are in direct opposition of each other, no matter what is being said.
The common refrain last night as Trump accepted the actual, real nomination for President was "how the hell did we get here?" and the answer, the way I see it, is actually pretty simple.
The Republican Party took a hard line against EVERYTHING Obama. Why? I honestly do not know. Surely some if it is racially motivated, but that was not all of it and I refuse to lump anyone who is a Republican together in a racist pile of hate. Some of it is definitely due to race. The rest? I really, honestly don't know.
That created the climate where everything has two sides and there is no nuance. The GOP then PUMPS OUT their completely un-nuanced views, many of which have been based in shreds of truth or complete lies to create a narrative that our country is on the edge of destruction. That, compounded over eight years, leads to a candidate who repeated shreds of truth and fallacies into that party's nomination.
There is responsibility in the Democratic Party as well. Simply put, they let that narrative happen. The 2012 election cycle was a complete joke, despite Barack Obama winning the White House again. Democratic candidates kept Obama at arm's length, fearing that he had a much lower approval rating than he actually did. The Republicans controlled the message, allowing those shreds of truth and blatant lies to become the narrative people believed was the actual truth. The reality? Most of America was at least okay with the job Obama was doing and believed in the policies he was implementing.
The scary thing is it's happening again. The GOP is selling a message of fear, doom and destruction. They're selling that Obama's White House has ruined a country that was once great and now is headed down the tubes. Despite the horrific rash of recent events, crime is down to its lowest rate since 1966. Unemployment is down. Millions of people have health insurance who otherwise wouldn't. These seem to be things that no one could argue are bad, although that is certainly not happening because that would undermine the narrative the GOP has sold.
There are, of course, other issues that some on the right would say are bad. LGBT rights have never been more equal, although there is still a long, long way to go as seen by HB2 in North Carolina.
Then there is the issue of race, which is the single-most infuriating "political" issue of our time. "Black Lives Matter" is an essential movement, shining a light on the inequality people of color have expressed for decades, yet so many rush to say that no such thing exists. My simple question is "why?"
Why are some people so quick to shout down the expressed struggle of others? Instead of cries for help being met with "how can I help you?" they are met with "your problems don't exist." This is bad enough on it's own, but the reality is the same people denying the problems are the ones who have created them. White privilege is something that is stunning when you become aware of it. Most would rather deny it and any other bias, conscious or unconscious, exists.
These are all things I wonder about, and things I would love to hear discussions about amongst the most educated among us. I would like to learn even more than I have, and learn what those leaders think are the best ways forward together. These are things I think. Here is something I know:
The media cannot be complicit, and largely I think they have done a good job of exposing the immense amount of lies Trump has spread during his campaign. Hillary Clinton is certainly not scoring 100% on the truth-o-meter either, and I think the media has called her on it as well. However her campaign is not built on lies and out-of-context, twisted shreds of truth that result in fear and a false narrative like Trump's is. Clinton's is actually built on policy, which citizens have every right to agree or disagree with, although I see very few opponents actually disagreeing with those policies. They are attacking her personally, trying to bring her down to Trump's level of dislike, which would give credence to "both candidates are bad." That false equivalence is just that, false. It is also dangerous.
It is not the media's job to be neutral. Again, I'm not a member of the political media. I'm just a guy with an opinion when it comes to the politics, but when it comes to the media's role I know of what I speak. It is not the media's job to be neutral, it's the media's job to be truthful. That sentiment was expressed on The Daily Show Wednesday night by Christiane Amanpour and I went "AH-HA!" That was the wording I had been looking for: truthful, not neutral.
The media's job is to present facts. The facts are that Trump does not believe in facts or truth or really much of anything other than his own self-interest. That is not an opinion. That is 30 years in the public eye and bank records and countless amounts of evidence telling us that is exactly who he is. This "opinion" is true down to the very thing that he built his entire existence on. He loves to remind us "I wrote The Art of the Deal!" Except he didn't. It was predominantly written by his ghostwriter, who has broken years of silence to speak against Trump in the last week.
The reason the media has largely portrayed him as a completely whimsical fraud who is truly only interested in his own betterment is because it is hard to find true, actual facts anywhere that say he is anything otherwise. These facts have been presented with proper context and that's why so many people, myself included, think Trump is a repugnant human being, and are completely repulsed by his candidacy for president.
So long that journalists present facts in proper context, it is up to the voters to decide what to do with them. A fact, presented in proper context, that reflects negatively on either candidate is not an example of bias. It is an example of journalism.
My challenge to anyone reading this is to be as educated as possible by November, and then act accordingly. Read things you think you might disagree with and really challenge yourself to see if you disagree. Use sites like Politifact that actually fact-check the candidates. Do not take either at their word. You owe it to yourself not to. And then bleeping vote.
Also, whatever you do, do not punt. Do not just go "I don't like either option" and give up. Many have already decided they are voting for Libertarian Gary Johnson. If that is you, you have every right to do that. Just make sure you put that same scrutiny to Gary Johnson as you have to the other two candidates.
Your goal by November is to pick the best option available. If there is not a candidate you like, that's fine. When in life do we get to make a decision with 100% certainty and satisfaction? Basically never. If you feel like you're picking the lesser of the evils? Fine, but pick one.
If that pick is for Trump, I simply ask you why? What about him is appealing to you? I have yet to meet someone who can explain it to me with actual facts. I come to this question with real intrigue, not a chance to jump. If you'd like to answer, you can in the comments or by emailing me here. If you do, please send along things I can read to challenge what I've said, because after four days of fear-mongering with no details of how those fears are going to be alleviated, I'd be delighted for a change.
I've yet to see actual facts, and the fact might be that they don't exist.
Politi-Fact had truth-checked Trump 182 times before last night's speech. He has told the complete truth less than 10. The details: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/jul/21/all-182-donald-trump-fact-checks/
In case you didn't click above and wanted to go back to it, Donald Trump's ghostwriter breaks his silence and paints a horrifying picture of someone who is running for president: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/donald-trumps-ghostwriter-tells-all
According to Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker, electing Trump would be the end of the American ideal. He is basing that off history: http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-dangerous-acceptance-of-donald-trump?mbid=social_twitter
Melissa Harris-Perry has taken in every moment of every political convention since 1984...until last night. She left Trump's speech early, scared: http://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/news/a38026/melissa-harris-perry-rnc-2016/
Ron Fournier in The Atlantic on Trump's art of deception: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/the-art-of-deception/492554/
The GOP is bending over backwards to defend its candidate, spitting in the face of all it stands for. Jordan Klepper on The Daily Show:
Jon Stewart returns to the desk to show the hypocrisy of Fox News in covering Trump. Much of what he talks about is exactly what created the environment I described above: