Saturday, July 30, 2016

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. These are the things we might be discussing during this presidential election. Donald Trumpence started the ball rolling early on, calling his chief rival "Lyin' Ted." This was not for Senator Cruz's propensity to fall into a prone position on the floor whenever he didn't get his way, but rather because he felt that Ted would obfuscate or mislead those within earshot of his fiery rhetoric. Manipulation of the facts, however, is what makes this season so special. Truth, it seems, will be a rather tough commodity to come by over the next few months. That and a civility.
Nowhere is this reality gulf felt more widely than the question of law and order. One party would like us to cling to the fear that has been laid out, partly by the media, but mostly by the terror-infused speeches of the Grand Old Party. On the other side we have the folks who will insist that, in spite of the high profile death and destruction we tune into nightly and click on each morning, all is well. There are plenty of media types who will point at graphs that show that violent crime has been on the decline for more than twenty five years. This is usually just before a cut to commercial and then a report on the latest mass shooting or suicide bombing.
What is the truth? Hard to say, especially with so many emotions mixed into the math. But here is where I start to get confused: If the country is becoming more violent, doesn't it make sense to put all our guns away? Or if the opposite is true, and we have never been so safe, why make such a fuss about all those assault rifles?
Maybe the real truth, as so often is the case, lies somewhere in the middle. Like so many slippery, stubborn things facts require management or at least heavy gloves when handling them. Like the economy, which has all those numbers and quantifiers, there will be a lot of arguments about if we are better off now or if we need to change course before we fall down the rabbit hole. You remember the rabbit hole. The one Alice fell into so many years ago. The rabbit hole of political satire.

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