Kissing cousins – facts and trust

By Reade Brower | Feb 01, 2018

Politics fits into a shoe called “eye of the beholder,” commentary is either preaching to the choir or swimming upstream. Readers believe what they believe and people change, not by what they read, but what they see, by what they feel.

If you touch it, you feel it. If you feel it, you own it. The way to get beyond the rational mind is to get through to the emotional one. Emotions will beat rationality nine times out of 10.

The rational mind depends on facts to lead the way; the emotional mind relies on trust.

When Kellyanne Conway made her comment about “alternative facts,”  people scoffed at her. But she was right; the facts are the facts, but one can choose which facts to look at.

As an example, let’s look at the economy. Most agree it is going gangbusters. Some want to give Trump all the credit, some give him some of the credit, others say he inherited a strong economic base from his predecessor.

What are the facts? There are two sets, each will back up your view. In that space, the facts become irrelevant and it comes down to whom you trust. That is an individual choice based on morality, reality, the facts, and one’s image of the world.

Take the question of the economy. Trump proponents will point to the facts – a Dow above 26,000, with no sign of retreat. An unemployment rate of 4.1 percent is outstanding and suggests a booming economy. Trump and his supporters will tell us correctly that we are at record highs, proving his policies are working.

The facts are that Japan’s stock market has outpaced the Trump boom, and Germany's and England’s stock markets have experienced similar growth.

Trump-haters will point to their alternative facts: though the Dow’s increase of 31.5 percent is impressive as a year-over-year comparison, Obama’s first year-over-year showed a Dow increase of 34.9 percent. When it comes to unemployment, Obama started with a 10 percent unemployment rate and left office with a 4.7 percent rate, more than a 50 percent drop. While Trump’s first year saw employment growth of 2.06 million, Obama’s first year saw 2.2 million new jobs created.

The list of facts goes on: Trump’s promise to reduce the trade deficit – it has increased 12 percent. A deficit that stood at $19.57 trillion when Obama left office is $20.5 million after year one, higher than anytime during the Obama administration. Trump said that Obamacare was a disaster and promised 100 percent coverage; when he came in, more than 91 percent of Americans were insured. A year later, it stands at 88.7 percent. Candidate Trump told us during the campaign that the U.S. was laughed at and not respected throughout the world; polls show 48 percent approved of us during the last year of Obama's presidency; it stands at 30 percent currently. Candidate Trump said during his campaign; “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to play golf,” criticizing Obama’s work ethic. The estimate for Trump’s golfing in his first year is 77 to 91 days, compared to 42 days for Obama’s average during his eight years in office. Trump took three times as many vacation days as Obama did in his first year.

So, that brings us back to the point; facts sometimes don’t matter. I haven’t changed any minds here. I haven’t even changed my own mind; in the end, it comes down to trust.

If you trust mainstream media like the New York Times and Washington Post, this last fact might hit home. According to both sources, President Trump has uttered more than “2,000 falsehoods his first year,” compared to 18 for President Obama over his eight years.

This is where the weight of my foot falls; trust over facts. The facts can be manipulated, just like headlines. We should give Kellyanne Conway a break, alternative facts are still facts; what we see is different than how we see.

It would be great if it were cut and dried, but facts allow us to form an opinion, even if they aren’t always the end-all-be-all.

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Marcus Smart plays basketball for the Boston Celtics; he was listed as out of action because of a hand injury. Instead of dodging the reason, Marcus released details, with an apology to his fans, his coach and his teammates. Marcus punched a mirror and lacerated his hand, leaving the Celtics without their defensive specialist for two weeks. Marcus came forward, said all the right things, promised to learn from it and apologized.

As a microcosm of life; isn’t that all we should ask for, the truth?  That is leadership; thank you, Marcus, for stepping up.

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“The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.”

--- Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle), novelist (1783-1842)

Comments (2)
Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Feb 01, 2018 11:02

"I dream of a world where the truth is what shapes peoples' politics rather than politics shaping what people think is true."  Neil deGrasse Tyson



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 01, 2018 07:37

"You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." 

Another excellent, thought provoking article. It is difficult to separate our emotions from rationality. It is critical to moving forward; both locally and nationally. Even in a tight knit family it can sometimes be a struggle. Appreciate Marcus Smart's vulnerability. We all make bad decisions that  can turn into valuable lessons; both for ourselves and others.



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