Religion and politics – those are topics that seem to cause ire and discontent even in the most peaceful of people. Of course, these topics are heavily influenced by culture, beliefs, socioeconomic status, and general life views. What seems to bring out the claws of many, however, isn’t the fact that different ideologies exist – it is that facts are misrepresented, either intentionally or unintentionally.
The Republican presidential candidates’ fifth debate was infused with some semi-truths and general misrepresentation on national security and included not-completely-true claims on terrorism, immigration, and foreign oil, according to USA Today. While it’s become fairly common for election time to morph into a strange land of smear campaigns, accusations from the distant past, and general unrest, it leaves most of the country and world unsure of what to believe. Fact checks can help to quickly dispel the biggest untruths, but often the damage has already been done since many citizens don’t follow up or investigate candidate statements or claims. This is unfortunate for the candidate and the individual, as it may lead to the endorsement, or lack of endorsement, in someone that they otherwise may choose to endorse or oppose.
The CNN Republican debate in Las Vegas featured nine candidates on the debate stage: leading man and entrepreneur Donald Trump, retired world-renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, former CEO Carly Fiorina, Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Sen. Rand Paul. As questioned were posed to the candidates, they attempted to clarify positions and refute what other candidates had to say regarding them.
As journalists scramble to confirm or disprove claims that are made in the immediate hours after the debate, it appears that yesterday’s debate held a lot of misinformation, which is par for the course with most debates but still makes it difficult for voters to discern who they truly endorse. Two of the most glaring misrepresentations have been brought to light in the previous hours.
Jeb Bush claimed that three months ago, Trump said that “ISIS was not our fight” and that “ISIS was not a factor.” Trump looked disgusted and claimed he never said that, and the fact checkers agree that Bush misconstrued Trump’s position. In fact, just last month, Trump said that he that he would “bomb the s— out of” ISIS. Trump’s comments back in September seemed to be in direct response to a question asked about whether to fight ISIS in the country of Syria. Trump said he would be happy to let ISIS and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, aided by Russia, figure it out while the U.S. took on ISIS in Iraq.
Each individual will have to decide if that amounts to saying ISIS is “not our fight,” but it is without a doubt inaccurate to say that Trump’s comment was that ISIS is “not a factor.” That was not said on air or at any time that can be proven as of this date.
Trump’s major unsubstantiated claim of the night was a biggie. When asked to defend his statements that the U.S. should kill all families of terrorists, Trump made the following allegation.
“We have to be much stronger than we’ve been. We have people that know what is going on. You take a look at just the attack in California the other day. There were numerous people, including the mother, that knew what was going on. They saw a pipe bomb sitting all over the floor. They saw ammunition all over the place. They knew exactly what was going on.”
While that particular fact is still being investigated by the FBI, there has been no substantial evidence to prove nor refute that statement. Some are arguing that his words incite violence and ethnocentrism, which are certainly not new complaints about Donald Trump.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]