When President Trump asked major networks to air his primetime Oval Office address on what he calls a “crisis” at the border, networks hesitated to meet that request. Eventually, they decided to broadcast it. Now several stories are plugging ways to avoid President Trump’s words.
But the networks made the right call to air his remarks, and you should watch them.
Like it or not, Trump is the president, and Tuesday he’s going to do what presidents do: sit behind the Resolute Desk and address the nation.
Yes, he will probably exaggerate and stretch the truth. And yes, he probably will gloat on Twitter about how many people tuned in. And if he does do those things, it won’t be the first time that an elected official has propagated falsehoods.
You should watch it anyway.
And then you should do what citizens in a democracy do: watch the politicians, disagree with them, and push government to be better. Hear what Trump has to say and engage with it.
There’s no shortage of ways to be informed. Take advantage of them.
The government publishes its statistics; look them up. Check just how many people are apprehended at the border, what the numbers mean, and where there is disagreement. Look at what DHS says about releasing people and having them show up for asylum. Look at the information about how many criminals, drugs, and gang members actually enter the country and where they do so. Check the historical data and, perhaps, look at how the government has manipulated information, in this administration and in the past.
As a citizen, that’s exactly what you should be doing. Democracy only works when people make it work, and that starts with knowing what is wrong (or right) about a politician’s policy.
A president’s speech that contains falsehoods is troubling, but when voters are unwilling or uninterested in learning the issues for themselves, that’s terrifying. In that case, democracy, the government of the people, would truly be broken.
So watch the speech and decide for yourself what you want to see from those you elected.