After the 2016 election, someone asked me who I supported. When I told them that I voted for Hillary, they said, in a shocked voice, “But she lies!” I countered, in my first use of whataboutism, “Well what about Trump?” Without missing a beat, they responded, “Well, all politicians lie”, thereby negating his own argument.
The logic is astounding!
It has been taken for granted that politicians lie. This administration has taken it to a whole new level, now averaging 22 misstatements a day. And yet, his base still slavishly follows him, echoing the lies. The entire political right is nothing more than a gigantic echo chamber.
So, what can be done to curb this spread of misinformation?
My idea, one that will surely not be widely accepted in Washington, is to establish a series of fines for spreading these lies. Each time a candidate tells a lie, they must pay an increasingly stiff fine. Failure to pay these fines will result in disqualification. Also, these fines must be paid from the candidate's personal funds and not from campaign contributions or some shadowy third party organization.
As a way of disincentivizing lying, the funds collected would go to a source the candidate opposes. If a Republican tells a lie, they must donate to Planned Parenthood. If a Democrat tells a lie, they must contribute to the Wall. By doing this, the age-old practice of demonizing the opposition through falsehoods, should come to an end, and we can finally have honesty in politics.
Editor's Note: I think it's brilliant.
Sadly, we cannot do anything about the fake news spread on right wing propaganda networks. Fox, Breitbart, Info Wars, the Drudge Report and so many others spread, or are even the source of these multiple falsehoods, often repeated as fact by Trump himself.
Even an attempt to research media bias has mixed results. A site called Accuracy in the Media is replete with right wing memes, so it’s hard to know who to even trust anymore.
Should the media also be held accountable? And who will judge them? The current administration sees any negative coverage as Fake News, so they cannot be impartial. The base cares more about ratings than facts.
How can we stop the lies? It's a question that gains in importance every day.
CJ Waldron is a retired English teacher from upstate New York. An adjunct instructor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, he lives in Conway, SC with his wife, Donna.