In the Political Arena, Facts Are Like Fossils

by | Jun 4, 2018

When people stop believing in facts, and the mainstream media stops reporting facts, we are a lost people.

That’s a fact.

Cheri Jacobus, a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors and a Republican consultant, is advocating for a fact-based solution to the current state of factlessness in American media and politics.

Non-Trump media are routinely tripped up and slow to fact-check, opting instead to simply repeat the misinformation, acting as mere stenographers, or providing airtime to Trump mouthpieces. The public has to wait hours for the truth and wade through a myriad of outlets to get it. Democrats (and other anti-Trump voices) need to fight the daily Trump lies and distractions in the same type of venue and forum in real time. A daily fact-checking, anti-corruption briefing that follows the White House briefing or other Trump-related breaking news, akin to the opposition party’s response to a State of the Union address, is in order. A lean team of professional press secretaries backed by fact-checkers can provide a quick, real-time check on Trump and defenders like Sanders, Kellyanne Conway and Rep. Devin Nunes.

I like her idea to fact check Don Don all day every day, but it’s not enough. While it’s true that millions of people don’t know the facts, it’s also true they don’t want to know the facts. So, a fact-based narrative like the one HRC relied on isn’t a winning strategy against a comic book hero. To beat Don Don, the Dems need their own comic book hero, who is focused on an entirely different narrative.

In other words, you don’t let Don Don set the agenda, and you don’t bother addressing his lies. You move the conversation to a better place. Like Obama, you provide the kind of hopeful vision that moves people to vote. For the Democrats, you’d think hammering away at how corrupt the Republican Party has become under Trump would be a no-brainer, but it’s not that simple. When almost all politicians from both parties are owned outright by their corporate backers, it’s hard to stand on principle.

Instead of being the less corrupt of the two choices, the opposition party would be wise to paint a new picture for people. For instance, when you run on free healthcare and education for all citizens paid for by massive cuts to the Pentagon’s budget, there’s a clear difference available to the voter. It seems that many candidates want to please the middle, instead of sounding the alarm. I understand the desire for normalcy, but there’s nothing at all normal about America today.

Simple Hard Truths Wrapped in the Flag

As an American, it pains me to see our nation suffer the indignities that come daily with the loss of our democracy and weakening of our institutions. As a communications professional, it’s doubly painful to realize how a smart brand strategy would help lift the Democrats out of the hole we are all in. Right now, Democrats have a lot of high ground to claim, but they’re not currently occupying this messaging territory:

  • Democrats are the true patriots and defenders of American freedom
  • Democrats are, by far, the most successful business people
  • Democrats support women, senior citizens, and people of color

Aside from a tight messaging strategy, it’s high time for bold actions, so I was pleased to see Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley make his way to McAllen, Texas over the weekend to check on immigrant detainees at a federally-funded facility there. The shelter’s supervisor would not talk to Merkley other than to refer him to the Health and Human Services public affairs office in Washington, D.C. He was denied entry, which begs the question, who is more powerful—a mid-level Trump bureaucrat or a U.S. Senator from Oregon?

They turned Merkley away at the gate this time, but the story isn’t over. There are innocent and vulnerable children inside this makeshift prison, plus frightened young mothers and others fleeing persecution in Central America.

Who will speak for the downtrodden? Who in Congress or the media is righteous enough, brave enough, and smart enough to effectively battle at this level? Jeff Merkley from Oregon, Kirsten Gillibrand from New York, and Kamala Harris from California are three Democratic Senators that come quickly to mind. One or more of these national leaders will likely be on the ticket in 2020. In the meantime, they can continue to tell the criminals in charge to go to hell and use the courts, denial of funding, and other Senatorial pressure to make this national embarrassment right.