The acknowledgment of objective reality

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, December 15, 2020, 3:00 PM | comments: 0

As part of a desire to better understand my own biases, I've been thinking a lot about the differences between the Bush and Trump presidencies, with the only really common factor being that both ran as Republicans. Bush's legacy is that of strong leadership during a crisis, then leading us into a disastrous war on pretenses that were not true. I focus a lot on that, because while it's the biggest thing in that administration, it wasn't the only thing. When it was all said and done, we can say objectively that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. No one would debate that in 2008, or any time since, including George Bush himself.

The last few years have been wholly strange when it comes to objective reality, and this year in particular. Certainly this is a precedent set from the top, as Trump is still peddling the idea that there was widespread election fraud, and that's why he lost. The reality is that counting and basic math is still a universal truth, and there is no evidence of fraud. No matter how much you don't like the outcome, it doesn't change the reality.

The pandemic has unfortunately been an example of where rejecting objective reality has dire consequences. As someone recently put it, we're having the equivalent of a 9/11 every day in America, and the reason isn't because we don't understand how to mitigate spread of the disease, or do our best to balance economic damage with health safety. We've culturally decided that either the cost of lives is reasonable or we're not vulnerable enough to worry about it. We know that dinner parties are bad, but visiting Walt Disney World is fine, counterintuitive as that seems, but we ignore that reality and endure suboptimal economic and health outcomes. Again, it doesn't help that the guy in charge insisted masks were stupid and it would just go away one day.

I think we've been somewhat lucky that democracy has endured, and that patriotism still has at least some roots in doing what is right and moral, honoring the Constitution. Having different ideas about policy will always be a thing, but when we disagree about reality, mostly for the purpose of assigning power to those who have not earned it, that is a dangerous place we must avoid.


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