The final debate has aired; I’ve cast my vote. Most people’s minds are made up at this point, and there doesn’t seem much else for me to do but wait for the results of the election. It’s almost like this tumultuous political season is over in my mind.
I wish that was close to the truth.
While my part in this process has been completed, it’s still ever present in the news and social media.
And it makes me cringe when I hear how little people trust newspapers and the journalists who are working hard to fact-check the candidates, yet they believe unreliable sources they randomly find on the internet. People make all sorts of claims, without any solid evidence to back it up, and it gets sold as fact.
During the debates, Trump and Clinton argued over policy issues and insulted each other’s character, and some people took them at their word. But that’s a dangerous thing to do since according to Daniel Dale, a reporter for the Toronto Star who is covering the 2016 election, Trump made 104 false claims compared to Clinton’s 13 false claims throughout the three debates.
But if people don’t read fact-checks of the candidates, they believe those lies, which is a dangerously irresponsible disregard for the truth.
As a journalist, that hurts. It hurts that some people distrust the media so much that they’re willing to believe whatever a candidate says without making sure it’s even true. Yet journalists are still willing to fact-check everything that the candidates say, whether or not people will take the time to read those fact-checks.
But things are worse than just disregarding the fact-checks. Some people hate the media to the point of violence; that’s terrifying.
A conservative newspaper in Arizona, The Republic, endorsed Clinton for president. It was the first time that it had endorsed a Democrat since it began 125 years ago, and people were not happy.
One reader called in and brought up the name of The Republic reporter who had been assassinated by a car bomb in 1976 and threatened that because of the endorsement, The Republic could see more of their reporters blown up. Other readers have said the paper should be shut down, burned down or they’ve made other threats of violence.
Is that what we’ve come to?
Do we really think that violence is the answer when we disagree with someone?
As a future, potential journalist, it makes me incredibly sad that this is how some adults respond to conflict. It also makes me terrified that I may have to fear for my life because something I’ve written didn’t sit well with someone.
Too often, we forget that while we have freedom of speech, so do those that disagree with us. In a time when everyone has an opinion to share (and a way to share it), I’d encourage you to take time to listen. But don’t just listen to respond; listen to have an honest conversation.
This election season has brought a lot of hurt feelings to the surface, and regardless of the outcome on Nov. 8, this pain and these issues will still be here. We can’t run from them.
So while I may have watched the last presidential debate for the next four years, and I’ve cast my ballot, I haven’t washed my hands of the anger and pain that is currently facing our nation.