What happened to critical thinking?

I haven’t posted much about the 2016 presidential election. In part because I had to recover from it. It ended up being a really traumatic experience. The US has come a long way since the days where they enslaved other people just because they could, but there’s still a lot of room for growth. Too much, really. The fact that people still get excited about the Confederate Flag is a pretty big indicator.

The election really showed us something important though – critical thinking has left the US. Sure, more people voted against Donald Trump than voted for him. That really didn’t matter though, now did it? He ended up becoming the 45th POTUS.

While I can’t really understand it, I sort of get why someone may have voted for Trump. He pretended like he was an outsider to the scene. (Even though there are millions of pictures of him hobnobbing with politicians.) He SAID he wanted to #draintheswamp. (Though he only knows other people just like him who are familiar with Washington.) He said that they could keep their healthcare and that people with preexisting conditions would be protected. (Though he has no experience with trying to sort out healthcare for himself on any kind of budget.) He made people feel like he understood what it was like to be the little man and that he came from the same place they didn’t. (Obviously not true since he had millions from his father to build his own businesses.)

Alright, I guess I can’t really understand how someone voted for him. But, that’s because I, like many others, engaged in critical thinking when he made his claims. I researched the claims to check their veracity. Of course, some will claim they did as well. There’s a whole world of alt-right media available to prove them right. But, a critical thinker would see that there were MANY (and more) pieces of evidence which suggested that the only thing spewing from Trump’s mouth was bullshit.

Why are we so divorced from critical thinking? There have been a few articles floating around since the election about how people are almost… proud… of their ignorance. While I don’t believe a formal education past high school is necessary, I do think we should all strive to be informed. Being informed is part of being a responsible citizen. Sure, back when the country was founded we elected representatives and let them do some of the researching for us. Now, though, we have all the information we could possibly want at our fingertips. Yes, we have to sort through things to determine for ourselves what may be accurate. It’s a little more work, but the fate of the country is in our hands.

The proliferation of partisan websites has pushed us to this point. I don’t read anything from the Right, but I can see it in the Leftist sites I see popping up on Facebook all the time. They’re articles with clickbait titles, while all the content has been taken in pieces from other, researched articles. OccupyDemocrats is the one I see most often and it occasionally makes my head spin. But, they get floated more often than the original sources. I invested in subscriptions to the New York Times and Vanity Fair because I wanted original journalism getting my attention.

In the past I haven’t cared too much who people voted for, as long as they engaged in critical analysis before casting a ballot. At the time though, it was policy differences that were at stake. I think it’s reasonable for us to discuss things like taxes, educational standards, and economics. It’s easy to disagree about the best path for American. That’s just not where we are now.

The Conservatives of old have been replaced by people who can only think to oppose Liberals. They don’t have a plan, as we saw with the ridiculous healthcare bill. Conservatives complained for years about Obamacare, but hadn’t bothered to research and draft their own plan? Nope! It was just “Down with Obamacare!” In any company they’d be fired for their incompetence. Instead they get reelected because they’ve managed to become experts at telling certain populations exactly what they want to hear. Selling the package of crap in such a way that discourages people from forcing themselves to think about what they’re voting for. Keep America uninformed and win! It’s gross. Disturbing. And I’m worried it’s going to end this grand experiment with democracy.

If the Marmalade Mussolini has his way, we’ll be a dictatorship before too long.

Stay vigilant, friends. Stay vigilant.