Spencer Fong: Sort through the lies to understand all sides
(Christopher Millette | Erie Times-News via AP)
On West 12th Street across from the Erie International Airport, Steven Lantz-Gordon, 24, at left, of Harborcreek Township, waves a flag in support of President Donald Trump near David Oberg, 60, at right, of Grand Valley, who raises a flag in support of Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden during a rally held by Trump, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, at Erie International Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Millcreek Township, Pa.
Politics today are nothing like they were 10 years ago, when I was first exposed to politics. There is a hugely increasing amount of partisan division; it seems like these days, simply belonging to one party or another is enough to cause division between people.
It’s apparent to me, though, that these divisions are not solely because of hard policy disagreements, but because misinformation fuels partisan division.
I see daily how much misinformation has invaded politics. I see it in both the Democratic Party and in the GOP. I see on social media lies presented as truth that my friends have heard about the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, I hear it in person, too.
In particular, one post I saw on Facebook stated that the only reason my friend is voting for Donald Trump (whom she claims to dislike a lot) is because the Democrats want to take all her guns and destroy the economy (by ending fracking immediately). Now, these weren’t the only claims, but they were two of the most blatant mistruths.
In case you aren’t sure what the Democrats position is, try a Google search, but it definitely isn’t that. It’s too bad that my friend decided to let her position be influenced by lies, leading her to believe that she needs to vote for a candidate she doesn’t even like. (Let me be clear here that I respect the right to vote for any candidate, though.)
As for the GOP, you may have heard that the GOP is a party of racists and bigots. While our president has spoken (or tweeted) in ways that would promote this view, the Democratic Party doesn’t own some figurative moral high ground that it seems to think it does.
In a way, this narrative is driven by some news media outlets that choose which stories to report on, and which words to use to advance their narrative. Sometimes, though, reality doesn’t fit the narrative and those things that don’t fit are conveniently left out. Even worse, sometimes those who disagree with the narrative are “canceled,” and canceling only serves to fuel the division, partisan anger and hate that pervade the country.
The more I learn about politics, the more I come to realize that both positions have valid points. While we definitely can lean one side or the other, no one side has all the answers. I mean, think about it, if one side was clearly wrong, then the two-party system wouldn’t have lasted for 200-plus years. If one side was clearly wrong, then half the country’s citizens would be absurd for believing what they do.
But one side is not always wrong and, when we become informed, we learn that our minds can be challenged and changed. We must learn to think critically and be OK with being wrong about some things.
We all have our thoughts about politics. I can’t figure out why, but there is nothing in the world that can get me riled up the way politics can. I know it’s at least partly because of the widespread misinformation and lies that characterize political campaigns.
While one person can’t fix this alone, each person can take the time to know what is truth and what is lie. I take my responsibility to be an informed voter seriously, and so should you.
Spencer Fong, Provo, is a student at Brigham Young University and enjoys reading, playing sports, watching the San Francisco Giants and (sometimes) following politics.