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Say, I have an idea

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, February 06, 2017 07:30 am

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. attributed to various peopleMight be worth trying. We're going around in circles talking about Donald Trump the person and all the events generated by and around the president. But the ideas he might be tapping into and should be tapping into, not so much. On his infamous immigration order, for example, plenty of time and energy have been expended on whether Trump is being an un-American bigot or a protect-America patriot. And as always we're obsessed with calling the horse race. What the order actually means, whether it will be blocked, how it was so sloppily and hastily executed.

But what about the idea of immigration? Every country wants to protect its borders so will have some kind of immigration policy. In the beginning, our policy was basically "everybody's welcome." We were a young country and had a big geographical space to fill, so the policy made perfect sense. Since then, our policy has been tightened and relaxed bu turns, depending on what officials of the era thought the country needed at any particular time. What policy do we need today? How many immigrants a year, from where, should we try for? Because officials from several administrations of both political parties have refused to deal with illegal immigration, we've never really had a good conversation about legal immigration.

If we talk about ideas, maybe we can get to the point where most of us are having the same conversation with the same goals in mind. We're not doing too well in that department right now.

I saw this distressing commentary a couple of days ago:

Journalists can’t seem to get their stories straight in the opening weeks of the Trump administration, whether in tweets or in articles where falsehoods have been spread almost daily.

The mistakes have not just been from newer liberal news outlets such The Huffington Post or BuzzFeed, but from legacy media like Reuters, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

The piece then went on to list several examples of badly botched stories. Some of them are just sloppy reporting of unverified facts that later have to be retracted or amended. Some are obviously the result of bias on the part of the press. And some of it is just maliciousness by people who hate Trump and seem always on the lookout for ways to make President Trump look bad.

Not that he doesn't do a fine job of that all by himself. He speaks impetuously, even recklessly. His tweets are the No. 1 source of what he's thinking and planning at any given moment, but he sends them from the top of his head, not after long and thoughtful deliberation. And when he strays too far from the truth, he is not one to apologize or set the record straight.

So if we can't be sure of the accuracy of what the president says, and we can't count on a competent press to keep the record straight, we're pretty much screwed on that whole "informed consent of the governed" thing.

No wonder we're so lacking in trust:

Well, that's not entirely true. We trust our military, and in fact that trust has grown, said Richard Edelman, CEO of one of the world's largest public relations consultancies. "Outside of that we are in such a crisis with trust that our faith and connection with the integral parts of our society is in collapse," he said.

Edelman's firm has been conducting the Trust Barometer survey for 17 years; last year the bottom dropped out and he is not quite sure how that tangible connection people have with institutions and expertise can be restored.

Only 43 percent of people said they trust the media; a whopping 5 percent drop from last year. Government came in even lower, at 41 percent; trust in military has grown, and trust in business is a bit stronger than the media and government, but not by much.

Trump's election victory was largely a result of that mistrust and it will likely be limited by it. And we are all being hurt by it.


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