Trump’s constant lies undermine our democracy

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Trump’s constant lies undermine our democracy

Lauren Steele

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Just a few hours into his presidency, Trump boasted about the size of his inauguration crowd in a bald-faced lie that he has since defended on three separate occasions. Even after seeing photographs of the turnout compared to Obama’s, Trump continued to gloat. Five days after his inauguration, in his first televised interview as president, Trump said, “They say I had the biggest crowd in the history of inaugural speeches.” This was a lie, not just an opinion, that he continued to perpetuate. Deliberately.

Democracy depends upon reliable, informed voters in order to function effectively. It’s dangerous to the stability and success of our nation to have a president that intentionally misleads his citizens.

While lying about the size of his inauguration crowd clearly isn’t a direct threat to our nation’s government, it shows Trump’s tendency to lie and his willingness to defend those lies, even when confronted with evidence to the contrary. We live in a country built on truth and dialogue, and it is lies like these that suggest an unprecedented threat to our democracy.

Trump is the least trustworthy president of all time. That’s not just my opinion—it’s a fact. Since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017, he has made 4,238 false claims, according to The Toronto Star. This amounts to approximately 5.7 false claims per day.

In Nov. 2018 during the Brett Kavanaugh trial, on 10 different occasions, Trump defended the same false statement: that Kavanaugh graduated at the very top of his class at Yale. In fact, Yale does not have and has never had class rankings, according to their website.

Granted, Trump isn’t the first president to lie—Nixon lied about Watergate and Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky. But never before have we had a president who manages to spread such falsehoods unabashedly about everything.

In Nov. 2018 during the Brett Kavanaugh trial, on 10 different occasions, Trump defended the same false statement: that Kavanaugh graduated at the very top of his class at Yale. In fact, Yale does not have and has never had class rankings, according to their website.

And yet, Trump’s approval rating among his party has not plummeted the same way his trustworthiness has. Despite these blatant lies and the recent government shutdown, he still holds a 39.5 percent Republican approval rate, and many past presidents at the start of their third year in office held approval rates only slightly above this (in the 40s).

According to CNBC, Trump’s approval ratings are very similar to those of Clinton, Reagan and Obama at comparable points in their respective presidencies. All three of those men were elected to a second term.

Trump’s approval rating is bolstered by his popularity among older, Republican voters. According to Pew Research, in the 2016 election, 45 percent of Republicans aged 18 to 29 supported Trump, and more than 60 percent of those aged 50 to 64 did.

And in the 2016 election, Trump’s popularity was consistently higher among those with lower levels of formal education, especially among those who had not attained a college degree, according to the Pew Research Center. Voters in the presidential election with degrees beyond a high school diploma tended to favor Hillary Clinton over Trump.

This voter makeup is likely a result of Trump’s outspoken support of less-educated Americans. “I love the poorly educated!” Trump announced to a crowd at a Nevada rally on Feb. 24, 2016.

The data shows that Trump’s supporters tend to believe everything he says, because his approval ratings remain relatively high despite his constant lies. The voters that shape the government of the United States are deliberately being spoon-fed false facts by their president, a man who should otherwise be the epitome of trust and respect.

According to Pew Research, younger Americans are better than their elders at telling fact from opinion in the media. Only 26 percent of those aged 50 and older were able to correctly identify factual statements from opinion. These numbers are worryingly low, as more than 44 percent of those aged 29 and younger could correctly categorize the same statements. Because Trump has an older fanbase, it is statistically likely that many of his supporters have difficulty distinguishing truth from opinion, which could be the reason Trump continues to get away with lies in his campaign, his speeches and even his tweets.

As Twitter has become Trump’s preferred outlet for breaking news and public statements, Trump must fact-check his tweets before releasing them to his nearly 58 million Twitter followers. False statements from the president, even on Twitter, undermine the entire democracy of our country by misinforming the American public.

In the era of  “fake news,” Trump has a responsibility as the President of the United States to deliver truthful information to the public. Trump’s advocates may argue that his statements are well-intentioned, but could be falsely made out of a lack of information. Nevertheless, Trump has a massive platform and it is his duty to make sure his statements are accurate before saying, tweeting or re-tweeting them.

Trump’s serial lies create voters that are misinformed and misguided on political issues. The safety of our democracy continues to be undermined as an uneducated and misinformed fanbase jeopardizes the nation’s trust and its bipartisan discussions.