Facts and Feelings in Politics

By Z Williams, 2L

In 2017, we live in a divisive political climate. It occurs to me that when historians evaluate this period, they may sum up this moment in America’s political history with two simple words: facts and feelings. I must admit that it may have always been this way, and I was just too preoccupied with local politics, my personal life, family, and goals to notice what was happening in our national political atmosphere. Further, I humbly submit to you that I did not understand why I should care about our nation’s well-being. Even if I did care, I was not quite sure how to get involved. Regardless, the issue we face as constituents of this nation involves a simple question, being, what role do facts and feelings play in our national politics?

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The events that have taken place over the past couple of years revealed the era of “fake news,” where substantiated facts have been exchanged for “alternative facts” — aka, feelings — such as wiretapping, the conspiracy murder of Seth Rich, record setting inauguration crowd sizes, millions of illegals voting in elections, and the idea that “inclusion of all people” is an effort to “minimize a single ‘people’ group.” We are in a time where facts seem pale in comparison to “spin” and “truthful hyperbole.”

So the question we must ask ourselves as the future leaders of this nation is, “How do we move forward and listen to one another if liberals and conservatives cannot agree on a set of verifiable facts?” I, personally, advocate a healthy debate between the left and the right. But, let the debate be based upon facts, not conspiracy theories, feelings, or fears.

We have a duty, as leaders, to be responsible about the information we share, promote, and advocate. My great grandma used to say, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight,” and she was right. It is our responsibility to equip ourselves with facts, not debunked conspiracy theories or feelings — before we inject ourselves into political debates.

My friends: Facts matter and words matter. We cannot sustain a democracy based on the ideology of, “If I think it is true, no matter how or why I think it is true, then it is true, and nobody can tell me otherwise.” (Mr. Kurt Andersen, Fantasyland).

I realize there are many bombastic opinions, but remember the loudest and most forceful opinions are not necessarily founded in logic, nor are they verifiable. Join me in a challenge; for the next thirty days, let us begin to decipher whether our arguments are based on feelings or facts. This requires that we know, and understand, why we believe what we believe — before engaging in political discussions. First, if you notice yourself responding to a question, or a statement in a debate, with the phrase, “I feel like,” or “I just think,” then step back and evaluate the facts behind that feeling. Second, listen to someone else with a different perspective. However, listen to understand that person, and then take the time to verify the information deducted from their argument (Snopes.com is a great website to verify information). Your goal in doing this is not to prove that person wrong, nor to shame them, but to help shape your own perspective. Additionally, many who read this mentor younger future leaders of this nation, and it is therefore our responsibility to care enough for the young people that we mentor, to personally invest the time to verify the information we pass along. Remember, someone else is looking up to you, and there is wisdom in validating and verifying the position you advocate.

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