Todd McKinley was a 2018 Republican Candidate for Congress in TN-01, he's a retired Army Paratrooper, Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, and Presidential Service Badge recipient. He’s served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as well 6 ½ years at the White House Communications Agency & White House Military Office. He’s served as an Advance Representative for the Trump Administration, and as an Advance Representative for the 2020 Trump Campaign. Follow Todd: ; ; ; ;

Facts have always mattered, even when they’re conveniently ignored, disregarded, or cherry-picked to suit a given narrative. Facts should especially matter now given how polarized society and our politics have become.

As Lucy Maud Montgomery said, “Facts are stubborn things, but, as someone has wisely said, not half so stubborn as fallacies.” Today, I fear that too many of our fellow citizens are not engaged in the goings-on in government at any level and cite any number of reasons for this. I’m not saying that a person needs to be engaged in politics 24-7 or be an expert on every facet of politics and government, but a modicum of attention and interest in a free society is the responsibility of every citizen.

Acknowledge the Facts

Acknowledging facts doesn’t mean we always must abide by them, it only means we must agree to what is true. Abiding the facts means we must accept them without objection or to conform to them no matter how ridiculous they may be.

We’re finding that a growing number of Americans are rejecting facts merely because they don’t comport with their political ideology, their skewed worldview, or personal experiences. Daily, one can find hundreds if not thousands of examples from those who hold positions of great importance, from elected and political officials, entertainment and sports figures, talking heads on numerous media platforms not to mention the everyday person on social media who ignore facts in exchange for opinions or beliefs not based in reality. These individuals refuse to acknowledge what ails society and give the worst ideas of what the best path forward should be to fix what’s wrong with America.

I don’t discount those who feel they’ve been left out and left behind or those who feel contempt for others, but many times the reasons they give simply are based on feelings. I get it, emotions are strong things, which is why we see people making decisions based on emotions instead of facts. This is how Democrats have been able to hold such sway over society, emotions are why we see people burning, looting, and rioting instead of weighing the facts before deciding. If not for emotions, society would be far better off, yet every election cycle we see the same old emotional ploy play out. Sadly, we see these games go further and further every two-four years to the detriment of every citizen.

Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts and it’s this environment of disbelief, distrust, the disillusionment that’s eroding our nation. Facts should matter more in a time of polarization, especially given the potential dramatic policy changes being proposed by Democrats.

The Importance of Facts

As John Adams famously said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

However, it’s not enough to say that facts matter or Tweet #FactsMatter, it’s important to know why they matter and why we all should realize and acknowledge this. Our beliefs and feelings don’t change the facts, or as Al Kersha said, “No matter what you believe, it doesn’t change the facts.” Why are facts so important, a stupid question perhaps, but nonetheless, a question worth answering. Facts help us understand the country’s most complex issues, whether it’s a social, economic, defense, or other complex issues.

Facts help us craft real solutions to the problems we face, facts help us know or predict how proposed solutions will affect the lives of everyone. Facts allow us to hold institutions of government at all levels accountable, especially when a chosen solution(s) fall short.

As the 2020 elections have come and went, America’s policymakers moving forward have numerous issues that need to be solved. Everything from healthcare, border security, social security, Medicare & Medicaid, taxes, retirement benefits, education, and many more. Those Americans who want to understand any/all issues, to include the facets of any proposed solution(s) need facts, not fallacies, or spin to comprehend how each will affect them, their families, and communities etc.

To keep our nation from falling further into the grips of division, we must rigorously search for the facts, we must quantify them, and ensure they’re of such a quality that when anyone disputes them it’s widely seen as a futile act. We all must go wherever the evidence takes us, even when it’s a direction we don’t want to go. In this polarizing time, facts should matter more than ever, sadly, we’ve gotten to this point because that’s just not the case. Our best hope is to rebuild the trust of a skeptical public to overcome our shared challenges. Oddly, it will take more than facts to build trust, understanding and a nation we all need and deserve.

Stubborn as They Are

Believing everything one sees on social media, sent to them in an email, private message, or something a person says simply because it reinforces a bias doesn’t always make it a fact. Mind you, it doesn’t necessarily make it non-factual, but without citing reputable sources it should be taken with a little skepticism until one can do their own research. It’s like blindly believing what your local barber says as he tries to regurgitate something a customer said weeks earlier. Mind you, your barber maybe a great person and tell funny stories, but that doesn’t mean they’re always true or based on facts. Remember, our local barber is always the best golfer or fisherman, but somehow, they make a living being our barber instead of doing something else. Of course, your local barber may not be a person to concern yourself with, after all, we all know when we go to an old school barber that part of the fun is the stories.

However, we should be wary of those who have real clout in our communities, the individual that people trust to be factual, especially the ones who have an instant opinion on nearly everything. These individuals pretend to know all the facts but too often they revert to conspiracy theories all while really knowing less than the average Joe but they have the strongest most entrenched opinion on everything. These types are so sure of just how right they are which compels them to share their “knowledge” at every opportunity, even if it’s not an opportune time for anyone.

I realize I regularly give my opinion, but I do my homework and derive my opinions after reviewing and studying multiple sources. I must add that not all the sources I research share my viewpoints, in fact, some of them infuriate me, but I press on. Sometimes after reading a story or watching a video from a source that I despise; I walk away with 1 of 2 thoughts. One, I don’t buy any of what they’re selling, which leads me to do more research to bolster this thought. The second thing is that this source made a few good points which I then incorporate into my thought process for later use, which I feel we all should do, regardless of whether or not the facts bolster our beliefs or not.

Strong Convictions Doesn’t Equal Facts

“A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures.” (Daniel Webster)

We shouldn’t allow someone’s “strong conviction,” to be the basis for public policy, especially when not supported by facts, evidence, and common sense.

Many times, we find that one’s convictions aren’t supported by facts, but by feelings or by stories one has heard throughout their life. Regardless, facts should always matter over feelings. I say, be suspicious of anyone who says they ‘believe something’ but can only provide the way they feel followed by slogans and sayings as a reason(s) to do something all while never producing any real evidence.

At the same time, be on guard against and call out those who attack and tear down others who stand with facts in hand, even if you like the person doing the tearing down. This is especially important to follow this rule when you don’t like the one who has facts on their side.

Regardless of how smart someone is, and no matter how convincing they sound, if their convictions aren’t substantiated by hard facts then keep an eye on that person as they’re likely about to do something that will have a negative effect on you and others. No personal feelings or blind loyalty should ever sway you to disregard the facts, especially when it comes to politics and public policy.

The “Right” isn’t Always Right

I must say that the “Right” isn’t always right nor is the “Left” always wrong and on rare occasions these days, both sides agree. In most cases, I’ve found that the right answer or at least part of it can be found by simply looking for it. For certain, “facts are stubborn things,” and facts don’t have a side, there’s no political ideology or political party that has a monopoly on facts. Many times, the Left and Right have a share of the right answers, sometimes it just depends on the given issue.

Now, don’t misconstrue what I’m saying, I’m not saying the Left’s political ideology is right, I’m simply talking about “the facts and nothing but the facts.” When it comes to political ideology, the “Right” is far and away better due to the fact we more regularly rely on facts first, not feelings. Also, the Right believes Americans are smart enough to make up their own minds versus the “Left’s” belief in a ruling class which leads them to be selective with facts as they prey on the feelings of vulnerable Americans.

For me, I choose to be on the side of facts, versus having feelings inform my decision(s), this mindset puts me on the Right. However, it’s up to you and every other American to determine which side to subscribe to. However, we all must be able to admit that in any moment we can be wrong even if it’s an old deeply held belief. Remember, beliefs aren’t facts but are guiding principles! In this chaotic time, I certainly welcome everyone to explore joining the side that adheres to facts first, the only thing one must do to attain membership is to be willing to look for the facts and agree to them, even when they go against what we would like to believe. After it’s all said and done, do as Ludwig Boltzmann said, “bring forward what is true, write it so clear, defend it to your last breath.” I must say, I agree wholly with that sentiment.

Here are a few links to recent articles that deal with this topic to some degree.

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