EDITORIAL: Voters must scrutinize Trump's claims
- Self-described anti-establishment candidates - political outsiders - appeal to voters
- No more business-as-usual is the mantra
- But when it comes to turning back the clock, it's an empty campaign promise, nothing more
It’s not difficult to see why a political outsider might fuel excitement across the electorate. Bernie Sanders has done it with primarily young white and more affluent voters and Donald Trump has done it with mainly white working-class men.
The common denominator here is a sense of disenfranchisement – so whatever you may think about these candidates, it’s a slippery slope to underestimate their appeal and therefore their power to shape this year’s elections.
We have already seen that clearly with Trump – who is last candidate standing in what was a 17-candidate Republican primary when it began. And Sanders says he’s staying in the Democratic race until the last vote is cast in the primary.
Although the delegate math makes it virtually impossible for Sanders to secure the nomination, he is a candidate – and has been a senator – who stands on his principles, no matter what the tidal wave of party opinion may be.
Recall, he voted against the Iraq War at a time when the overwhelming political will was strongly in favor of occupation, largely because of post-9/11 sentiment across the U.S.
So he’s likely not going anywhere, although that could change, even though there is considerable pressure on him from pro-Clinton Democrats who don’t want him to divide the electorate and hurt her run against Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee.
And for as much hand-wringing as is going on inside the Republican Party, it’s clear the party establishment underestimated the way the Manhattan billionaire would co-opt the conservative base that has become fired up and fed up over the past two decades.
The day of reckoning is here.
What is really crucial, though, is that voters stop and examine the claims of the candidates. It’s not easy to fact check contentions made by any political candidate, because those claims can be nuanced and couched in ways that make them technically true but only when looked at without considering the broader context.
Or, in the case of Trump, they can be so assuredly delivered as to sound like a done deal.
Such is the case with Trump’s claims regarding bringing coal jobs back to Appalachia.
On Thursday, AP business writer David Koenig fact-checked those claims and, upon reading his findings, it’s unclear how Trump could have made that statement and really believed it himself. It’s unclear why his supporters would believe them either.
Koenig’s facts are so widely accepted as to be common knowledge.
Koenig writes: “Coal’s slump is largely the result of cheap natural gas, which now rivals coal as a fuel for generating electricity. Older coal-fired plants are being idled to meet clean-air standards. Trump, however, has yet to explain exactly how he will revitalize Appalachia’s coal industry. To pull it off, he will have to overcome market forces and a push for cleaner fuels that have pummeled coal.”
Who among us is unaware of these facts?
The story provides a detailed fact-check on why bringing back coal jobs to Appalachia is not going to happen as Trump says he can make it happen with his self-aggrandized business acumen and his sheer will.
Similarly, “making America great again,” isn’t a platform, it’s an emotional manipulation. And whatever it’s meant to mean – presumably that all manufacturing will return and white men will rule the roost once more – it’s impossible.
Because as much as some may wish to turn the clock back — for reasons romantic, self-serving and just plain wrong — that’s not a real thing that can happen.
The cautionary message here is not: don’t vote for anti-establishment candidates. We agree that it’s time the establishment worked for the American people again and not in favor of securing their own jobs over securing ours.
The cautionary message is voter beware. Empty promises aren’t a new thing in political campaigns.
Just because someone tells you he can do something, no matter how much you may want to believe it to be true, doesn’t mean it can happen.