It is time for American voters to rise against hate-v-truth politics that threaten to destroy democracy. Voters need to remove Republican and Democrat politicians whose lies divide and embarrass the nation as they manipulate the truth and spew hatred at those who disagree with their point of view. Perhaps, it is time to start educating voters well before they are old enough to vote in state and federal elections.
First, every American should understand and accept the fundamental difference between the Republican and Democrat parties in simplistic terms: From an overly simplified and easy-to-understand perspective, conservatives vote with their heads, and liberals vote with their hearts.
Not all liberals are ignorant of facts, and not all conservatives are heartless. For example, liberals acknowledge that a fetus is a human baby but think abortion should be legal in the United States. In contrast, conservatives know that not all women use abortion as birth control and favor abortion in certain circumstances.
Moreover, most women want autonomy from governmental regulations that affect their reproductive rights, including access to an abortion if she chooses. Still, self-important hate-v-truth politicians fail to pay attention to their demands. Instead, counterproductive hate-filled rhetoric meant to demean their position is spewed their way.
Points of view vary based on perspective and personal experience. Politicians help to form voter attitudes with their spins on “job(s) and economy vs. taxation, pro-business vs. social justice, popularism vs. equality, law & order vs. gun control, free will vs. mandatory edicts, evangelicals vs. women’s rights, military vs. education & climate, healthcare: private vs. public,” according to Michael Nistler’s comment about the Diffen article, “Democrat vs. Republican.”
Political Fearmongering Hate-v-Truth Campaign
Sadly, creating division is behind the political machine’s extremely successful fearmongering hate-v-truth campaign. When the masses are exposed to the lies fed to them by politicians seeking to fulfill personal agendas, right and left-leaning media, social media, and, unfortunately, religious leaders, Americans struggle to know which perspective is the best choice for the country, this further proves that the campaign to remove civics and citizenship education from the classroom was effective.
Because of its prevalence, first-time and inexperienced voters cast ballots based on hate-v-truth politics, not on facts. The problem with failing to teach people that their vote can make change happen and not giving them the tools needed to separate the noise from the truth causes them to lean on others for understanding when making voting decisions.
Unfortunately, most of that information comes from strangers on mainstream and alternative social media sites. These unknown entities flood social media feeds with hate-v-truth-type news that grossly outnumbers factual stories. Then they use hashtags to attract attention.
For example, trending hashtags like LiberismIsAMentalDisorder highlight the hate-v-truth tactics instigated by politicians who will do anything to win their election. A Google search revealed several sites boasting similar political party-specific hashtags.
Hate and Lies Threaten to Strip Away Constitutional Rights
The worst part of shutting down the rhetoric is that it violates the Constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech, which is the ultimate goal of every fearmonger. This is not new; the government, individuals, and groups probably started to take away rights and privileges given by America’s Founding Fathers from its inception.
However, the rhetoric level heightened in the days following 9/11 and the inception of Patriot Acts One and Two. While intended to protect the nation, these laws empower hate-v-truth politicians to develop fear-based campaigns. Political platforms that depend on misinformation, evasion, and misdirection will allow the government to slowly strip away Americans’ rights. They count on a repeat of the historical apathy outlined in Martin Niemöller’s protest poem “First They Came:”
First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Niemöller penned “First They Came” after the Holocaust; however, it reminds people of the problems with hate-v-truth politics and warns against indifference. It also forewarns against the psychological strategy called creeping normality or landscape amnesia, which is “the process by which initially major, unacceptable changes to our way of life can become acceptable by introducing in incremental, often unnoticeable steps,” explains Hustle Escape author.
Tragically, governments trample on rights because people do not understand how their government is structured and its function. Recent polls reveal that most Americans have not read the Constitution lately. Reading America’s blueprint reveals the national government’s function, citizens’ fundamental rights, and how to address problems.
Civic and Citizenship Education Fights Against Hate-v-Truth Politics
The Founding Fathers argued that voters must be well-informed and well-instructed. According to CBS News, America’s founders would agree it is deeply troubling that only one-quarter of Americans can pass the 100-question Citizenship Test given to immigrants seeking citizenship.
Twenty-five percent is a poor showing since 96.1% of applicants passed the test in 2021, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
These new citizens will cast ballots in November as educated voters armed with knowledge found in free study materials and sample tests on the USCIS website that everyone can access.
The only way for Americans to be well-informed is to learn about the U.S. government’s structure, how politicians are elected, and elected officials’ expected behavior. The best way to become an educated voter is to review the USCIS Citizenship study materials and vigilantly select non-partisan news sources for the facts using the Media Bias and Fact Check website. It is also essential to read about all candidates, not just one party, but all parties, Republican, Democrat, Independent, and others.
Moreover, children must learn about the Constitution and how it affects their lives. Schools may provide basic civics and citizenship education in grade school social studies. However, that is not enough. Civics education should be mandatory in every grade and continue into college. Additionally, adult learning centers should make civics classes available year around.
As Taylor Swift says: “It’s not enough to just want change … You have to go and make change by voting.”
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
RAND: How Are U.S. Public School Teachers Approaching Civic and Citizenship Education? By Melissa Kay Diliberti and Julia H. Kaufman
Penn Today: Amid pandemic and protests, civics survey finds Americans know more of their rights; by Michael Rozansky
The Heritage Foundation: More Americans Need to Actually Read the Constitution; by Thomas Jipping
Diffen: Democrat vs. Republican
FEMA: President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Florida
Ballotpedia: Partisan affiliations of registered voters
CBS News: Most Americans don’t know what’s in the Constitution: “A crisis of civic education”
USCIS: Find Study Materials and Resources
Positive Action in Housing: ‘First They Came’: The Poem of Protest
Hustle Escape: Creeping Normality: The Dangers of State Gradualism
Featured and Top Image by Dan Dennis Courtesy of Unsplash
First Inset Image by Manny Becerra Courtesy of Unsplash
Second Inset Image Tingey Injury Law Firm Courtesy of Unsplash
Third Inset Image Courtesy of Cathy Milne-Ware’s Flickr Page – Public Domain License