Jim Crawford: A one-way ticket for the U.S.

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 22, 2024

The most clear and present danger facing the nation is the fantasy that the facts no longer matter, and “Alternative Truth” (AT) is a real thing.

It is not.

No matter how earnestly you would like to argue that Joe Biden stole the 2020 election, it is simply not true. You see, there are facts, and the facts offer undeniable evidence that Biden beat Trump in a free and fair election in 2020. 

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That you may believe otherwise matters not and reflects your inability to consume information that is freely available.

Nevertheless, Republicans indeed trust the vote less now than even six years ago, in 2018 (according to Pew Research). In that election year, 92 percent of Republicans expressed “very high confidence” or “confidence” that our elections were accurate. By 2022, Republican election confidence fell to 79 percent. The difference? No single factor, but Donald Trump’s election denial certainly contributed to the loss of trust.

The loss of trust extends to most of our institutions. In 2023 Pew Research reported that fewer than 20 percent of Americans believed the federal government could be trusted “just about always” or “most of the time.” In 1958, when Pew first polled this issue two-thirds of Americans expressed trust in the government. The current number (16 percent) represents an all-time low for nearly 70 years of polling of trust in government.

The broader question for all Americans is how do we self-govern if we distrust virtually all of our social institutions? Can we survive as a democracy if we choose to disconnect from reality?

There are multiple examples of this disconnection, not just the Big Lie of the 2020 election. Vaccinations have saved hundreds of millions of lives since Dr. Edward Jenner found a vaccination cure for smallpox in 1796. 

Yet, today, there is an organized and growing collection of anti-vaxxers who actively disseminate misinformation that can kill unknowing people. Among these anti-vaxxers, many Republicans, are those who strongly deny the pandemic-ending COVID-19 vaccinations that restrained a worldwide threat killing over one million Americans.

The climate on the planet is changing and its effects surround us. Science offers us unmistakable evidence that human activity is strongly contributing to climate change, but our Republican friends stand against taking action to reduce the human effects on climate, endangering all life on the planet.

The American infatuation with all things guns has resulted in the deadliest civil society not-at-war on the planet, yet even minimal gun control remains elusive as we live in a state of Republican denial jeopardizing innocent lives daily, protecting the guns, not the people. It is a fiction, but one so deeply embraced that it appears as unchangeable.

Our language has been compromised by words whose very design is intended to undermine trust in our social institutions. Claiming convicted felons are “hostages” undermines our justice system, our courts and our juries. Likewise, calling elected officials with whom you disagree the “Deep State” suggests only loyalists can hold public office with trust, presenting a strain on free speech and public discourse.

There is another path we can follow. 

We can stop using language to demonize those with differing viewpoints. We can stop tormenting our educators for simply doing their jobs to teach our children; we can refute naming the poor and helpless as rapists and murderers; and we can reject the violence of our political language now embraced by our Republican friends. 

Most importantly, we can, and we must, surrender the acceptance of AT in our discourse, for if Alternative Truth prospers all that holds us together as a nation is at fatal risk.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.