U.S.

Only Four in Ten Republicans Believe Trump Mentioned Biden on the Ukraine Call. Thanks, Tribalism

President Donald Trump waves on the South Lawn of the White House, July 24, 2019. (Joyce N. Boghosian/White House)
Although it’s fine to have a political affiliation, that should never replace your desire for objective truth and knowledge.

A  new poll shows that only four in ten Republicans believe that President Donald Trump mentioned investigating Joe Biden on his phone call to the Ukrainian president — even though Trump himself has admitted that he did.

The Monmouth University Survey was conducted between September 23 and 29.

Not only is this news itself a problem, but it’s also a symptom of a larger one: For far too many people, partisanship supersedes facts.

It’s true: The majority of people are either for Trump or against Trump, and the side that they’re on is the only thing determining their view of any issue. Many people on Trump’s side have (whether they’re conscious of it or not) simply written off any negative information about him as “Fake News.” With this kind of mindset, why would they ever even bother to click on a headline from, say, the New York Times reporting that Trump had mentioned Biden in the call? There, they might be able to see that Trump had in fact admitted it, but many would never get that far — because they have already decided that the Times is a “Fake News” source, and therefore not worth considering. Also, for the same reason, they might not trust it even if they did get so far as to read it. In short: If it’s favorable to Trump; they believe it. If it isn’t; they don’t.

What’s more, this isn’t the first time that we have seen survey results like this. No — in 2017, a Public Policy Polling survey found that less than half of Trump supporters believed that Donald Trump Jr. had met with a Russian lawyer, despite the fact that the president’s son himself had admitted that he did so.

Of course, there are many people who would see these surveys and just chalk it up to Republicans being brainwashed idiots — but those people would be wrong. After all, the fervent left has also proven to be lost in its own partisanship-induced fog. For example: Remember when Trump dumped all of that fish food in that koi pond during a visit with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe? Trump-haters saw it, and immediately took to Twitter to slam it as an example of more rude, unpresidential behavior from Trump. The truth? Abe had actually done it first, and Trump had just been following his lead — as anyone who had actually bothered to watch the entire video, or read the entire pool report, would have known. But, of course, the hyperpartisan left had no need to bother with such things, because facts aren’t what they’re using to determine their views of issues. Their partisanship is.

After all, “Fishgate” is far from the only time the Left has done something like this. For example: How many times have you heard a leftist journalist confidently claim that the rhetoric Trump uses at rallies leads to more hate crimes? This past spring, Vox, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and CNN all ran stories on a single study that reported a 226 percent increase in hate-related incidents due to Trump rallies. Politicians including Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ilhan Omar seized on the study as concrete, absolute, indisputable proof that, as Omar put it, Trump’s “rhetoric is directly and indirectly inciting hate.”

Yes: Leftists confidently made these claims, without bothering to look into the numbers or consider any other factors or explanations. Thankfully, Matthew Lilley and Brian Wheaton at Reason did just that. They used the same statistical methods as the original study’s authors to analyze the impact that Hillary Clinton’s rallies could be having on hate crimes, and do you know what they found? An even greater increase associated with her rallies than with Trump’s. What’s more, rather than just saying “Aha! So Hillary is the hate-inspiring one!” the pair looked into other reasons for the numbers, ones that had nothing to do with politics — explaining that the inflated number of hate crimes could easily be due to factors such as politicians often choosing to hold rallies in larger cities, where “the raw number of crimes is generally mechanically higher.”

Something has to change. We live in a climate where one side hates the other, where it’s impossible to work together, and so much of it is based on perceptions that have no basis in reality. Although it’s fine to have a political affiliation, that should never replace your desire for objective truth and knowledge. After all, reality is going to exist whether you’re aware of it or not — and it’s always best to be able to make your decisions and determinations based on what’s real, rather than on a politically motivated fantasy.

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