In nineteen days, Donald Trump will have been president of the United States for a year. This time last year, pundits were screeching about the impending disaster that would likely unfold. Previously reasonable people were warning of a nuclear winter, a mass exodus from the United States, and an unchecked rise in global warming. And yet, one year later, what has actually happened?
Not much, it seems. Obamacare is set to be repealed this summer, true. And a new tax bill recently went into effect.
Actually, let’s talk about that tax bill. It’s the most relevant source of recent Republican-Democratic debate.
As the chart above shows, the bill (the last line segment at right) wasn’t actually all that major. Obama had passed a larger cut just a few years earlier.
So why all the hullabaloo? Simple. Donald Trump’s actions have caused people to dislike him, and thus, many are automatically suspicious of whatever he may do, even if they don’t actually know that much about it.
This unveils what is really a problem with politics at large: very few people actually bother to understand what they’re talking about. The statistics are merely a means to an end, and it’s easy to pick whatever end you want. The chart above shows historical tax cuts and increases overall, which makes sense, and in that light Trump’s is relatively tame. But what if it were to show historical tax cuts and increases for the wealthy (or the poor)? How would the bill look then?
You can see how easily seemingly clear data is to manipulate. What, perhaps, you don’t see is how often it is manipulated.
Almost every major company, politician, and medium of news is deceiving you. And it’s being done in increasingly clever and unnoticeable ways.
Consider Vox’s video about the decision to transport the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which also informs about the general issue. You can watch it at this link, or below:
Seems simple enough. But consider, for example, this line, from near the end of the video:
Israel has arrested Palestinians and is clamping down on protests…
The rest of the sentence quickly moves on to other topics – and that’s intentional. Think about the way that sentence is structured.
Why, exactly, is Israel arresting Palestinians? Is their reasoning good or bad? Where is it happening – is the area Israel’s rightful jurisdiction? Are those protests peaceful?
On the face of it, the sentence sounds rather bad: ‘arrested’ and ‘clamping down’ act as buzzwords that put the viewer into a negative frame of mind about Israel’s actions, but the video draws attention away from it before the natural questions framed above surface.
And it’s not just Vox that does this. CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, Washington Post, and many more use confusing charts, tricky turns of phrase, and other ways of painting the picture they want to varying degrees of obviousness. For instance, Fox more or less openly accepts that they are conservatively bent, whereas Vox proclaims itself ‘a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines’.
As I’ve stated before (and I try to do so when I write about politics) I would be classified as ‘centrist-right’. That is, if I classified myself, which I don’t like to do. The idea that (at least for an American) political view is just as defining as age, gender, or religion is bizarre. The less I think about my political views (like my opinion on whether Republicans deserve to die), the better.
It’s definitely not worth arguing about from a Biblical perspective. After all, both liberals and conservatives will be in heaven, unless I’ve somehow overlooked a part of the Bible that refers to political parties that didn’t even exist until a few centuries ago.
If that means giving up spending a valuable chunk of time arguing over the newest stupid thing that Trump has said (which, by the way, will most definitely not have an impact on your eternal destiny), count me in.