Columnist

TOMMY FOLTZ: Another great prediction

Two weeks ago, I boldly predicted Taylor Swift would not endorse Joe Biden at halftime of the Super Bowl, admitting that such a prediction was like guessing the sun would still rise in the east the next morning. Based on this streak for incredible accuracy in predicting future events, I'm going to make a "way too early" prediction for the presidential election--in 2028.

Yes, I know. This is like predicting how good the football Hogs will be in 2025 before Spring Practice for 2024 has even kicked-off, but because I'm so sick of watching a current president who appears senile and his all-but-certain opponent who appears insane (both may be right), I'm going to do it anyway.

Arguably, the best thing about this prediction is that it will not include the names Biden or Trump. In fact, it doesn't include any names at all. Why? Because they don't matter.

My prediction is that no matter who the candidates are, they'll break the 2024 record for, let's just call it, "dislikeability." It should be noted that this record was previously owned by Trump/Clinton (2016) and was broken by the Trump/Biden (2020) and now rests with the Biden/Trump (2024) election, so thinking the trend will continue is not much of a stretch.

Once again, we'll be asking ourselves, how is it possible, that out of 340 million people, these are the last two standing to lead the free world?

So, how'd we get here?

I have a theory on it. No, it's not a conspiracy theory and it doesn't seek to make any outlandish claims or throw anyone, or a particular political party, under the bus. It's just a personal theory that includes culprits like distrust, disrespect, disinformation, misinformation, confirmation bias, intellectual laziness, pride and out-and-out cynicism working together to spoil what should be an otherwise pretty positive outlook on the world in which we live.

Perfect? No. Way better than advertised? Yes.

An entire book could be written on this, but alas, only so much room is available in a newspaper column, so consider this only a partial book report.

Here's the deal: The reason candidates are so disliked by so many is the same reason so many believe that despite America enjoying the best economy in the world, last December, Statista found that only 30 percent of America rates the economy as "excellent" or "good," while 68 percent rate it at as "fair" or "poor."

These numbers coincide with polls indicating that a majority of Americans think their own finances are doing just fine. There's less than a 4 percent chance someone they know is looking for a job, the stock market is hitting record highs every week, and risk of recession is largely gone from the thoughts of almost every economist in the country, including former Trump official and current Fox News host, Larry Kudlow.

For my money, the only thing that explains this is that for many Americans, it's all they hear every minute of every day from their news sources. When I say "their," I'm talking about Republicans, but rest assured, if the shoe were on the other foot, left-leaning media outlets would promote the same gloom and doom, but maybe on a different subject that's more important to the left.

As always, there are three sides to the story: Yours, mine and the truth, which usually exists in the gray area in-between, and nobody explores the gray area.

The sad reality of today's biased news is that if your own grandmother ran for office, by the time the "angertainment" industry got through with her, you might think she was summoned straight from hell for the express purpose of wrecking the land of the free and home of the brave. Either that, or she was a drug-runner who robbed banks in her spare time. Of course, there would be no evidence of this, but hey, if grandma gave you a hard time growing up, who cares, right? Run the story . . . .

With all due respect to Al Gore's Internet, the invention of social media has put the angertainment industry on steroids and it's only amplified the volume of the echo chamber. Anyone with a smart phone and an imagination can start an outrageous enough rumor out of thin air that will spread like wildfire across the land.

It's a perfect storm capitalizing on two design flaws we all share as humans, which is not only our naïveté, which makes us believe things did not happen when they did, and our gullibility, which makes us believe things did happen when they did not.

Unfortunately, the Internet brings a lot of bad with the good it brings. And it's exposed the fact that not everyone is on the up and up and we simply can't count on the better angels of our nature to set the tone of public discourse. Until we can, don't look to do anything more than vote for the lesser of two evils for the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, all we can do is try to drown out the lies with a flood of truth.


Tommy Foltz is an editorial writer for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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