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Debate Over “Truth” Distracts from Pertinent National Issues

Illustration by Anya Chytrowski

In a CNN interview, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani stated, “truth isn’t truth.” These words, so reminiscent of George Orwell’s famous novel 1984, give a clear picture of the status of our democracy.

By continuing to reinforce the concept that it is even possible to argue over what the truth is, President Trump and his posse are splitting our country even farther apart.

This is because we are no longer willing to compromise, as we see the world through two completely separate perspectives. Compromises don’t make sense when your truth is being debated, versus when your ideas are. Liberals and conservatives are so divided that healthy discussion is hard to find.

We used to debate the best way to treat immigrants and the best policies to employ, but we have stooped to a new low. Now, arguments revolve around whether undocumented immigrants are murderers and rapists. It is crazy to think that we are arguing over ideas that only four years ago would have been regarded as racist, ridiculous, and unproductive.

This negative progress is partly due to President Trump’s attack on the media, which has created doubts about whether the media is truthful and reliable.

Trump regularly critiques the media, because every time he lies or says something highly controversial they hold him accountable. According to the Washington Post, in his first 558 days of office, the President made 4,229 “false or misleading claims.” Whether this statistic is completely correct or not, the sheer quantity of things he has said that were false is astounding, and is likely the most by any president.

The sad thing is that President Trump’s “truths” are very hateful and many people eat them right up. The role of the president used to be to unite the country. He’s doing the opposite, driving us further and further apart.

Trump’s disdain for the media went so far that he tweeted “The FAKE NEWS media […] is the enemy of the American People!” Attacks on the media are not productive and it would be better to focus on the problems in our country. His hatred toward the media is partly responsible for the division in this country. Trump’s base believes him and when he gets angry at the media, they follow his lead. This division can be easily seen on the television.

If you turn on Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC,  it’s mostly yelling. Television personalities are doing little to understand each others’ views or to engage in productive debate, instead it starts and ends with just hatred of the other side’s views. Contrary to popular belief, healthy discussion is actually good for everyone involved. By having to explain our views, we learn more about why we think what we do and by talking with others, we also come to better understand the perspective and opinions of the other side.

In order to move forward, we must block out the idea of there being multiple versions of a truth. Once we are no longer arguing over what the facts actually are, we can discuss what to do with these facts, how we can compromise, and what actions we should take to improve our country and our world.