The old adage, “don’t talk about politics and religion,” came to mind recently when I was going door-to-door asking people what they think of this year’s presidential candidates.
What intrigues me the most is how quiet people are about this year’s presidential election. With the exception of a few, most of the people I have spoken with don’t know much about what the presidential candidates stand for or what their attitudes are toward basic civil rights.
With only 19 percent of Americans surveyed by the Newseum Institute knowing what the five freedoms of the first amendment are, the silence of Americans around the current state of our political scene is unsettling.
Undoubtedly the second amendment issue is gaining popularity as a hot topic of discussion in the back-and-forth between the presidential candidates.
The NRA endorsed Trump for president, which is reportedly the first time the association has endorsed a political candidate for president. Trump is blasting Clinton across the mainstream media, saying she is likely to try to take away American’s second amendment rights if she becomes president.
It’s an old-school scare tactic used in politics. Get the pro-gun supporters scared that their firearms will be taken away from them and they’ll be running to the other side of the debate.
Clinton, like most Democratic nominees, thinks we need stricter gun laws on assault weapons. But we know that most shootings happen with handguns, not assault weapons, so the argument to ban assault weapons is a dramatically weak argument, in my opinion.
As of now, neither Trump nor Clinton are advocating for guns in classrooms, according to recent campaign statements. But with the Ohio Senate poised to vote on House Bill 48, we might see Ohio laws change to allow the concealed carry of handguns onto college campuses and at day-care centers in Ohio.
But I digress on the second amendment. Let’s back up to the first amendment and consider what the presidential candidates are saying about freedom of speech. If your need to refresh your memory, the five freedoms of the first amendment are freedom of speech, press, petition, religion, and assembly.
Donald Trump would like to re-write the first amendment if elected. At a rally in Texas he said, “I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people I’ve ever met … one of the things I am going to do if I win … is I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles we can sue them and win lots of money.”
Trump has manipulated the media industry so far as to get $2 billion worth of free advertising in his campaign. It seems the two are feeding off each other.
Trump is an entertainer—remember the television show, The Apprentice—a seemingly horrible businessman, having bankrupted his own businesses four times, and far from being the well-spoken statesman Americans need to truly “make America great again.”
Yet those who prefer his anti-intellectual speech are lapping up the sensationalism like dogs in water, and mainstream media corporations are making tons of money off of the Americans who are tuning into Trump.
So far the CEO of CBS said Trump’s presidential candidacy “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” And let’s not forget CBS’s news president’s brother is the White House national security advisor. American politics and media go together like french fries and ketchup.
During his re-write of the first amendment, Trump will not only target freedom of speech and press, but also freedom of religion. Speaking to reporters in Washington D.C. last month, Trump said House Speaker Paul Ryan asked him to not sound so much like the German Chancellor Hitler.
Trump’s reply: “Instead of saying I am going to round up people based on their religion, I’ll say that’s just a suggestion. Just like that, I’m 50 percent less Hitlerish.”
Hitler, through the use of media propaganda and sensationalism, also preyed upon many common people for the voter support he needed to become as powerful as he did.
As I went door-to-door asking people what they think about this year’s presidential candidates, I wound up traveling across Ohio to interview the regional Amish and Mennonite communities.
The communities of the Amish and Mennonites have conservative values. Most of them said they do not vote because of their beliefs. But what most surprised me was that even they, who hold some of the most conservative values of this state, are alarmed by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The response of a local Mennonite man, when I asked him what he thought of the presidential candidates, said this of Trump:
“It seems rather exciting to see somebody with a new breath of fresh air coming into the scene. You could say the establishment is getting pretty old. But that’s not saying it’s a good—you know, we still don’t know how good of a president he would be. Adolf Hitler was a very, very, very popular leader in his earlier days, Christians were even voting for him, Jews were probably voting for him … he was a very popular guy. He just went overboard. We don’t know where this will lead but—I can’t help but think that somebody with too radical a view of something might wind up going down the road too far. “
I couldn’t help but to be impressed by this man’s opinion. Trump may hold too radical of policy views for even the most conservative residents of Ohio.
I then went to Antioch College to sit in on a presentation by Matt Guardino, assistant professor of political science at Providence College in Rhode Island. Guardino is a political scientist who has examined and studied how mainstream media has led to the rise in Donald Trump. I’m excited to cover and share that presentation with readers.
Because, really, what would anyone know about Trump as a person if we turned off the mainstream media?
Speak now or forever hold your peace, because when we elect a president who promises to dismantle what constitutional rights our ancestors and fellow citizens died for, we won’t be able to walk door-to-door to speak freely to our neighbors about politics and religion. When we are rounded up like cattle for our independent views and freedoms of press and religion—well, perhaps then we will understand what Trump really meant when he said the media is the most dishonest group of people he’s ever met.
Ashley is a reporter at the Record-Herald. Contact her at (740) 313-0356 or on Twitter @ashbunton
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