Rationality in the USA: A Growing Concern?

13 March 2018

By Aaron Beard - Since the 2016 election, every time I have gone back to the US it feels a little different. I’m not quite sure if that is because of the people that are in power, or just because there is a different feeling amongst the people, but either way, it feels like a different country. When you have a nation that is so highly polarized it creates so much tension that one can really feel it when they are going about their day-to-day life in the US. But beyond this political strife, there is something that worries me much more about the US right now, and that is the idea of rationality. 

Since around 2015, far before the election results were even out, there was much talk about the idea of “fake news”. Now in Europe, this idea of fake news has grown into a pretty large joke. When people even hear the term fake news, in regards to the US at least, they tend to laugh and blow it off as a kind of joke. However, when one really thinks about this, it is definitely not funny nor humorous, but actually extremely dangerous, especially in its regard to rationality. 

Since the 2016 election - and even before - I have witnessed US society moving into an era of post truth. Basically, in my opinion, this means that the US has entered an era where truthful facts are not of the most importance, but rather everyone’s opinion is being treated with equal weight behind it. The reason I bring up fake news is because this is the most well-known and clear example there is. When one says “fake news” they are rejecting rational thinking and logic. It means that this person is not bound by rationality and hard facts, but is rather living in a world of their own. Kind of scary when you think about it right?

Throughout the past year and a half of Trump’s presidency, the US has heard much about "fake news”, but it really did not bother me until two weeks ago, when Trump made a comment on Mr. Xi, the President of China. In short, Trump basically alluded to the idea that maybe the US could have a president for life, and that it might be worth giving that a shot. Thus, already we see a man who doesn’t acknowledge real news outlets, but is also starting to make comments about the US needing a by proxy dictator.  

In short, I am starting to worry that the US really is heading into an era where truth, facts, and logic are not as important anymore. I think the country is heading into a time where it is going to have to figure itself out and solve some of these truly troubling issues. I just hope that even this is possible; as said before, when the President himself rejects logic and facts, and many of his constituents begin to do the same it creates a highly dangerous environment. When one is not bound by rationality, can there really be any kind of progression? 

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