I'm going to say it (and to no surprise!): America's fascination with Donald Trump is deeply rooted in misinformation that has come to be represented and viewed as facts. Donald has built his entire campaign on the expectation that people will take him at his word, not challenge his outright lies or his attempts to manipulate the American people into believing that he's the "every man's" candidate for president.
This was once again on display during the recent news coverage related to the Brexit vote. After the people of Great Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU), Donald Trump said, "They're angry over borders. They're angry over people coming into the country and taking over, and nobody even knows who they are."
This is gravely misleading and likely intentionally so, however, there's also a very strong possibility that Trump is just unaware of how the EU functions or Britain's status in the Union. The reality is that Britain is not a signatory to the Schengen Agreement and, therefore, is not subject to the free movement of people that is associated with the Schengen Zone (26 EU members are also members of the Schengen Zone). In fact, the only "free" travel in an out of Britain is from Ireland and a few rather small areas outside of EU member countries. Listening to Donald Trump or the "political" commentators on Fox News on Friday you would think the Brexit vote represented some dramatic closing of Britain's borders, however, in true showman fashion, this is a dramatic exaggeration.
On the other hand, some have argued that Donald Trump was referring to the presence of Syrian refugees in Great Britain. Even if that was the case, he would still be largely inaccurate in that the 1,000 refugees (part of an authorization for up to 20,000 refugees) that are currently seeking refuge in England were authorized by British action - not at the demand of the EU. In fact, the program to allow for the resettlement of Syrian refugees in England only came to fruition, "following considerable pressure from charities, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees), and across the House," which resulted in the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme. Notice the absence of the EU in the list of groups that pressured the Home Secretary to announce the policy change.
Donald Trump's assessment of the Brexit vote demonstrates his elementary understanding of foreign affairs.
Of course, while Trump was busy galavanting through Scotland to promote his new golf courses - and misrepresenting how the Scottish people felt about the EU referendum - the American people were still facing a slew of pressing issues for which Trump's understanding appears to match his lack of knowledge regarding Brexit and the EU. A quick review of Trump's website demonstrates the campaign's lack of transparency when it comes to the candidate's positions on critical issues facing the United States and the world.
Here's just a sampling of some of the policy areas that Trump has been less than forward about how he would address these growing problems:
- In a country with a growing educational gap and a falling standing in the world regarding educational attainment, Donald Trump does not have a single policy idea for education reform on his website. This is especially troubling as the United States continues to decline with regards to where it ranks in educational attainment when compared to other countries - we use to be first, now we're ranked 12th.
- Social Security represents roughly 24% of the federal budget, however, more than a year into his campaign, Donald Trump still has yet to publish a plan for helping to stabilize the nation's retirement system while helping to ensure that seniors receive a monthly payment that lifts them out of near poverty.
- According to NASA, "All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880" with most of this happening after 1970. What does Donald have to say about climate change? "I think [climate change is] very low on the list. So I am not a believer, and I will, unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there's weather. I believe there's change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries, but I am not a believer, and we have much bigger problems." Once again, the billionaire businessman has no published plan for addressing what NASA refers to as being of "particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years."
This is only part of an extensive list of policy areas and issues for which Donald Trump has either no position or has avoided publishing a plan for addressing such. Ask Trump supporters where their candidate stands on any of these issues, or a whole host of others, and you'll get a blank stare or a circular statement that somehow comes back to immigration and "jobs."
Donald Trump's proliferation of misinformation has created a problem in America: People actually believe what he says even though he lacks facts for the vast majority of his statements. Through his misinformation campaign, he has effectively set the blinders on his supporters in a way that has them fixated on immigration and bombastic rhetoric rather than focusing on the growing list of issues facing our country.
The notion that a man prone to lying, name-calling, poor business decisions, and a complete lack of knowledge when it comes to policymaking is able to be a major party's candidate for president of the United States is utterly terrifying. However, even more frightening than Donald Trump's lack of knowledge and playground-bully approach to campaigning is his ability to get people to actually drink the Trump Kool-Aid.