So, it happens that a Trump surrogate made an interesting statement regarding "facts"--they don't matter anymore. Things are true if people believe in them. So, maybe Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim--who knows? Maybe aspirin is a good birth control pill. Maybe climate change can be dumb because your dumb face, right?
Of course this is an appalling thing to say. There needs to be common ground for people to be able to get together and discuss their wants and needs. If facts--the concrete understandings that are the underpinning for our shared reality--don't matter, then how can we ever deal with the subjective responses people have in reaction to those facts? It seems like a casual way of dismissing groups one doesn't want to listen to--"I reject your reality and replace it with my own."
It seems to me that the problem is one of "epistemic closure"--a fraught subject in right/left relations in these here United States. The mainstream media makes a game of false equivalence regarding traditional conservative and liberal discourse, but there does seem to be a higher propensity amongst conservatives for believing sheer bullshit. That's not to say liberals don't ever believe in bullshit--it's just that your bullshit has to be pretty immaculate to get us to the table.
I've considered "epistemic closure" to be part of the right/left communications failure for a while, starting with the rise of the Tea Parties, and noted it as being a particular reason why "outsider" candidates were winning the 2016 primaries. But the electoral wave that made Trump possible has lead to disturbing notions like a "post truth world".
That should not be a thing. Facts have to matter. Things like how climate change happens and how other countries feel about their borders and their economies matter. A leader has to be aware of facts because those are your handles, the grips, the ways of understanding what needs to get done.
This post is, in part, a riff on Big Bad Bald Bastard's post, about which I'm copacetic. Where two separate and barely overlapping cultural, mental, emotional, realities occur, it is hard to find common ground. We don't share the same folklore or necessarily appreciate the same ideas about what constitutes "values".
But if I have to find a place to plant my spear and stand like Horatius Cocles, and admit facts matter? Ok. Here goes--facts matter. Reality and government need facts. No matter what corner tells me different. I will stand on the facts.