The 2016 election was the first one I paid any attention to.
Starting the year prior, I began to involve myself in the news cycle as I learned to find information from multiple sources and carefully comb through the truth and exaggeration. I formed many good habits during this cycle, and would primarily find news through a conglomeration of media outlets in the Apple News app on my phone.
Quickly reading articles about election updates and other things going on around the world from many different sources was fascinating and changed my view on our political system. For me, despite never watching cable, I could observe how particular news stations swayed their coverage towards one side without actually saying anything false. I found myself becoming a more experienced consumer of information.
Then Trump won, and coverage ramped up. I tried to keep up with the news at this point, but it became increasingly difficult. Every day there was another outrageous story or something bizarre and dangerous being tweeted. Even today, in the president’s eyes, everything is a big conspiracy against him.
Less than a month after the election, in a sore attempt to make himself feel better, Trump claimed with no evidence that 3 million people voted illegally, attributing this to his loss of the popular vote. This was later disproved by our own Department of Justice. Then, he claimed with no evidence that Obama wiretapped his phones. This was also disproved by the Department of Justice.
He claimed the death count of 3000 people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria was inaccurate, and that only six to eighteen people died. He said the media tried to make him look bad by making up a false number.
He claimed Democrats who did not stand and clap for everything he said at the State of the Union were treasonous. He claimed, with no evidence, that the noise from windmills causes cancer. He claimed, again with no credible evidence, that violent video games often contribute to mass shootings.
To start off 2019, he held the government hostage by shutting it down for the longest period in history until he got funding for his border wall, then declared a national emergency after that was unsuccessful. And Throughout this process, he falsely cited an “invasion” at the southern border despite illegal immigration being at a 46-year low.
It’s all just an attempt to dominate the news cycle. As long as the American people are talking about him, he’s happy. But no matter how you look at it, the president is either incredibly stupid, or he’s lying to and manipulating every single American. I’m honestly not sure which is worse.
And these lies aren’t innocent, either. They’re more dangerous than many realize.
They provoke conspiracy theorists and supremacists who’ve long remained dormant, as those long silent individuals are now hearing their views validated by the highest office in the country, as Trump and his administration lend a dog whistle to their absurd and unrealistic views of the world. Even if you believe your support of Trump is benign and a way to stick it to the establishment, you likely do not understand what he is trying to do behind the scenes. Trump is playing to a base that many of us don’t even know exists.
I slowly became unable to keep up with everything that was breaking in the news and started to tune out for a bit. Despite my better judgement, I simply couldn’t mentally handle all of the lies being thrown every which way on a daily basis. It was especially difficult to witness his own party failing to take the moral high ground and stand up to him.
There were a few months earlier this year where I just couldn’t take it anymore, and significantly limited my news consumption.
But then I realized that by doing this, I’m just playing into his hand. He wants us to tune out, that’s the whole reason he spends his days composing a plethora of offensive and false tweets. He is slowly desensitizing us to the incompetencies of his administration, and if we play his game and don’t hold him accountable, he wins
So don’t let him win.
Pay attention. Vote.
Do it for the sake of our press and our country.
Patrick Doyle is a freshman studying journalism. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickDoyle100.