Two months into the Trump campaign and there are still some major questions that many pundits, politicians, and general observers of the news had assumed would be resolved, or at least somewhat cleared up by now. In just the past month, we have seen the unraveling of the American Health Care Act fiasco, Rachel Maddow’s rollout of tax returns that left many Trump skeptics unsatisfied, and the Hawaiian restraining order on the infamous travel ban. With the sheer volume of breaking news permeating millions of Americans’ lives in the form of smartphone notifications, social media commentary, and traditional news coverage, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with Washington’s newest endeavors—and understandably so.
Over the past decade, an in nite abundance of information has become available at any time to people all over the world with the touch of a button, via a small piece of metal in their pockets, and it has drawn many critics due to how it distracts from the “real world.” But what happens when the “real” world appears stranger than the fiction in escapist iPhone games? What happens when something as trivial and fleeting as a viral meme becomes associated with a government office, or when whole Internet cultures are created in reaction to something said by a politician? While diversion tactics in and of themselves are hardly a new technique of anyone in the public eye, the current presidential administration has created a new standard for the way politics and news are discussed.
From the moment then-candidate Donald Trump descended an escalator in the summer of 2015 to announce his campaign, what would later come to be known as “alternative facts” became a staple, a driving force of that campaign, but what separates these outlandish statements from other intricately spun statements is how unapologetically the speaker seemed to be. If the news wasn’t fake before Trump accused CNN of being so, it was now — no matter what the facts said.
As we have moved forward from the election to Trump’s inauguration and the first few months of his presidency, the public still remains largely uninformed about one of the most glaring threats to the new administration — the Russia connection — and the more information on the subject does become available, the more dubious the relationship begins to look. But what happened just as news about Trump and Russia started resurfacing last month? Rachel Maddow mysteriously got ahold of some tax returns, pushing the former issue out of the headlines of news reports. And now, former national security advisor to the Trump camp, Michael Flynn, has said he is willing to testify on the issue of the team’s connections to Russian entities, but only if he is granted immunity from prosecution.
But, it bears repeating: shady overseas connections, public deceit, and embarrassing gaffes are nothing new to politics, especially the American presidency. The only difference is that now we get them in the form of tweets at 3 o’clock in the morning from a president who has never previously held public office. And yes, the sheer volume of information surrounding Washington politics right now is overwhelming, even to self-professed political junkies; however, ignorance still does not equal bliss, peace, or justice, especially not when we need it most.
It’s easy to actively reject measures and statements that one disagrees with, and move on to the next thing. But by angrily lashing out at each other, severing ties due solely to differences in political opinion, and screaming into the void of the Internet about how little the sneaky administrators accurately speak for Americans, they are falling victim to the central idea that creating multiple scandals that cannot be handled with create a populace and opposition spread too thin. And charlatans can be stopped — through good, honest press, informed citizens, and active demonstration and representation. So while the road ahead may be unclear, and all the maps may be in a foreign language, the battle for truth is not over yet.