It seems to me that many people don’t get what Trump did in Ukraine and why this really is an impeachable crime. It just doesn’t sound like what he did was that big a deal. Many people are not outraged. Many are thinking, “Ho-hum, sounds like politics as usual to me.” And I suspect Trump’s base is thinking, “Of course he did nothing wrong. He was just trying to clean up the usual democratic corruption. And now the Democrats have invented a witch hunt to destroy him. As usual.”
To anyone who regularly reads any good newspaper like the New York Times, or the Washington Post or the LA Times, it is abundantly clear that this is not what is going on at all.
So, what is actually happening and what can be done about it?
In plain language here is what Trump actually did in Ukraine and why understanding it is important. He tried to bribe Ukraine to say that Biden and his son are corrupt. They were in fact not corrupt. Any casual reading of any real newspaper clarifies this very quickly. Trump bribed Ukraine to rig the 2020 election in his favor. The obvious conclusion is that if Trump would do this, he will cheat in any way he can to win the 2020 election. And if Presidents or any elected officials are allowed to do this sort of thing, then democracy cannot work. The Founders knew this, and the constitution says that bribery is an impeachable offense.
As a late November New York Times article says, “The testimony so far indicates that it’s even worse [than simple bribery] in this case. It suggests that Mr. Trump wasn’t simply soliciting a bribe, but doing so to try to rig the next election. It should go without saying that representative democracy cannot work if its leaders are cheating to keep themselves in power.”
Those who are paying attention and who are reading real newspapers understand that what Trump did is a major offense, a major crime. But many, probably most people don’t have time or inclination to read serious newspapers. Or they don’t know which news sources deal with actual facts and which don’t.
Somehow the truth of this situations needs to be spelled out very clearly for everyone in America. Trump’s supporters need to really understand how serious Trump’s offense is.
But how can this happen when Trump’s supporters don’t get any real news. Most people in this country get their news from Facebook. The Pew research center says that 45% of Americans get their news from Facebook.
The problem with this is that Facebook news is not objective news. Facebook is a filter bubble. Facebook is designed to give its users only that information they already agree with. Facebook does this because the actual reason it exists is to steal data from everyone and sell it to the highest bidders who are usually in businesses tryin to sell their goods. And they are also politicians and political parties who are trying to win elections.
If businesses and politicians have tons of data about about each prospective buyer or voter, they can pitch their ads to appeal specifically to every individual person in America, or at least to millions of us.
So, Facebook needs to keep its users happy and loving Facebook. How better to do this than telling them exactly what they want to hear. They don’t want users to read news that says all their fondest beliefs are false, and then get angy and dis-enroll from facebook.
The result of all of this is that a large percentage of people who use Facebook are not getting objective news. They are getting what they want to hear.
As more and more people believe the same things they become a bubble. A bubble created by the filters in Facebook and other social media. And this bubble can become large enough to elect a president or to make millions selling everything from a new cell phone to the latest trendy clothing.
Unfortunately, Facebook is just one source of filter bubbles . The internet is awash in all kinds of platforms and sites who pretend to be sources of objective information but are really just stealing masses of information so that you and I can become better consumers.
There is an old saying in the media world, “It you are getting it free, you are not the customer, you are the product.” There are lots and lots of really nifty apps out there right now that are totally free. Think about this the next time you click the “agree” button. I have to admit that I have clicked that button far more than I like to admit. Some of those apps are really very, very cool. And free. I’m afraid we are all guilty of this.
Google does this. And Twitter, and Amazon and Apple and all kinds of other corporations who are enabling the richest people in America.
And there is another problem, the Trump base doesn’t really want the truth. They have been deeply wronged for many years and they are very angry and they should be. Their incomes have stagnated for the last 40 or 50 years. They have been been left behind in a land where homes are repossessed and where there is no security in any jobs open to them and prices do nothing but go up, while others get rich. Very, very rich. And then they are scorned and disrespected as idiots and morons. These good folks have every right to be very angry and to fight back in any way they can. I would feel just like them is this were happening to me.
But unfortunately all of this is enabling Trump and the Republicans. All of this is keeping the truth from many millions of Americans.
At this point the votes of the Trump’s base are desperately needed by both Trump and the Republican Party. And so the Republican base are very skillfully being fed information via their social media that leads them to think their deceivers are elite Democrats when they are actually mostly rich Republicans. And all of this has created a huge problem in America.
Does this sound like an impossible problem. Well, it does to me too. How could such a huge problem actually be fixed. Much less in time for the 2020 election.
I guess I don’t think it really can be completely fixed. At least not in time for the 2020 election. But maybe I’m wrong. There may actually be solutions out there. Here are some possibilities.
Could there be some way to educate large numbers of people about real news and fake news. One way voters could come closer to knowing what is really going on in the world is to trust publications like the NYT and other progressive newspapers. But unfortunately the Trump base doesn’t want to do this because they think the NYT is an instrument of the evil liberals who are deceiving them.
Maybe the best way the Trump base could develop bull shit detectors would be for them to get some kind of a decent education. It seems to me that a reasonably priced college education or at least a good high school education is vitally important right now. However, these days college educations come at unbelievably high prices that no one without rich parents can even begin to afford. And those who want to borrow money to go to college have to endure punishingly high interest rates. Do you think all this accidental? Doubtful, if you ask me.
Another possible solution. Maybe things will get so bad in America that it will become obvious to everyone that Trump and the Republicans do not have the interests of the masses at heart. And then maybe us people will vote Trump and the Republicans out and there will be another great progressive age in America like FDR’s New Deal. Sooner or later this may happen. It has happened several times in America in the past. For example the Progressive Age at the beginning of the 20th century and The New Deal in the midst of the Great Recession changed everything for the better.
Or maybe climate change will get so bad that we will all realize that this must be fixed now and reject the current government and elect a progressive one.
Or maybe the Democrats have become so offended by Trump that they will all turn out in November 2020 and outvote the Trump base. This could actually happen. Or not
All of these options could possibly happen. Or not.
These are deeply dangerous times. I hope we can somehow fix them for the better. I think we had better, or democracy in America is in for some pretty tough times.
Here is some more information on all of this.