Another week and still – as of this writing – no confirmation on who’s president of the United States. As I’ve said repeatedly since Election Day, most of the media has committed journalistic malpractice by declaring Joe Biden “president-elect” prematurely, on the ruse that President Trump’s legal challenges lack any merit to be taken seriously. It doesn’t matter: until the electors pick a president or unless Trump concedes in the meantime, there is no winner, like it or not.
So as not to spend more time on this issue while it remains unresolved, let’s turn to some of the biggest challenges our country will face no matter who occupies the White House.
Recently, a colleague pointed out to me that Trumpism will not survive Trump himself, not only because that movement is a cult of personality, but also because Trumpism doesn’t stand “for” anything, but rather rails “against” certain ideas. He is right, on both counts. I have long written that once Trump is out of the picture, whether it be next month or four years from now, his movement will dwindle, much like those of William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long, and Ross Perot once they were no longer part of them.
The main difference between Trump and those three, however, is that not only was Trump elected president – and if the election results are confirmed has gained more votes in his reelection bid than any sitting president in history – and not only did he win as a major party (Republican) candidate instead of via an independent or third party bid, but he has managed to galvanize GOP support, at least among the voters if not the Beltway muckety-mucks, more so than any other president in modern history. Nonetheless, it is difficult to sustain an anti-something platform. Instead, the focus ought to be strongly speaking in favor of certain things, and these ought to be at the top of the list.
Trustworthy Media: As President Jefferson realized, a reliable media is more important to the well-being of a nation than even a government. It is extremely distressing and disheartening that there is organized and strategic media bias, often so subtle that it cannot be detected by the untrained eye and ear. Consider this example, to illustrate: President George W. Bush was an avid runner and the media used to follow him during his morning exercise regimen. With reporters constantly snapping high-speed photos, depending on the precise moment one photo might have appeared flattering (chest out, smiling, strong, confident) and another, taken just two seconds later, unflattering (exhaling, slumping, sweaty, tired, overwhelmed, defeated). Even the simple act of choosing which of those two photos to publish is a calculated tactic, the goal being to depict the president in a particular manner. It is this type of systemic media bias that erodes the very foundations of our republic.
Objective Education: Closely related to media bias is education that is slanted toward a particular political and/or social ideology. Simply put, academicians – whether Kindergarten teachers or graduate school professors, and all of the ones in between – should not reveal their political leanings to their students. Any of the thousands of students whom I’ve taught over the past 30-plus years can easily search my writings on the Internet and determine my personal political views (such as the hundreds of columns I’ve written for this newspaper, for example). But absent such a search, they wouldn’t know where I stand because in all of my years of teaching I’ve covered every presidential election with tremendous enthusiasm and animation, but never revealing my preference for one candidate over another, or making a stronger or weaker argument for the candidates accordingly. Unfortunately, there are many teachers (maybe even most), who don’t revere the importance of objectivity in education. Teachers should give their students neutral information and let them make up their own minds; they should not indoctrinate them for induction into an unspoken national society of groupthink. The truth can best be tested in the marketplace of ideas, and those ideas should be placed on shelves equally visible to the consumer no matter where s/he stands. Also, divergent points of view should be embraced and even encouraged, but certainly not censored or condemned. Closely related to necessary reforms in the media and education is a similar need in Hollywood. Films and TV shows should go back to entertaining, and the Oscars should be politically silent. Besides, I’ve always found it suspect to take a given actor’s “impassioned” message as necessarily genuine, considering pretending to be someone they’re not and saying what they don’t mean is what they do for a living.
Critical Thinking: The biggest blow to critical thinking in the U.S. over the past two decades has been the scourge of political overcorrectness. If you didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, or Hillary Clinton in 2016, you must be a racist or sexist, respectively. If you chuckle at Trump referring to Elizabeth Warren as ‘Pocahontas’, it’s not that you think his comment is a clever quip exposing her widely debunked claim – brought forward to secure her a cushy Ivy League teaching gig – that she is of Native American descent, it must be that you embrace racial slurs. And if you’re an actress who plays a witch in a fictional film and you have hands with only three fingers, it can’t be that you’re just playing a nonexistent creature, it must mean that you are causing pain to actual human beings with “limb differences” and so you must apologize to them (this really happened, ask witch Anne Hathaway, from The Witches).
Therefore, rather than being against Fake News, Leftist Schools, and Political Overcorrectness, let us stand for Trustworthy Education, Objective Media, and Critical Thinking. Whether it’s Trump, Biden, or anyone else in the White House. Because whether you’re scared that Trump is a fascist or Biden is senile, these three issues are far more significant to our nation’s future than either of those two individuals.