I know a lot of Trump voters. I have many in my own family. I talked to some of them about their decision before the election and came away fascinated and upset. Their views were a swirl of rage, confusion, and endless conspiracy theory. They were absolutely obsessed with terrorism and the Middle East.
I think our foreign policy in the Middle East is a disaster, too, so you’d think this would be a space I could have a conversation with Trump supporters. But if I tried to start a conversation about Clinton’s record in Libya or Syria or her support for drone strikes, they didn’t know even the most basic facts about the region, its recent history, or our policies there. Instead they went on long tirades about how Clinton is a secret terrorist supporter hiring powerful terrorists to her campaign.
I don’t think the media or social media is totally at fault for this, but I do think Cathy O’Neil is right that things like Facebook’s fake-news-promoting algorithm and the media’s myopic focus on polling data instead of policy are a part of it.
I deal with this in two ways. 1) By posting long, nuanced articles about political and economic philosophy and policy no more than once a week on Facebook. FB’s algorithm then promptly disappears those posts as they are not exciting clickbait gifs, so maybe that isn’t actually effective. 2) I also try to subscribe to a magazine every year that publishes good journalism or detailed, thoughtful pieces on policy.
I prefer reading these on paper – I like being able to finish them, time not looking at a screen, and their superior performance to phones in a light rain while waiting for the bus. Past subscriptions have included National Geographic, Jacobin, Pacific Standard, and High Country News. ProPublica and the best local paper unfortunately don’t have print products to subscribe to, but I occasionally donate to those excellent organizations. A couple other publications that I think do awesome work are Orion, the Texas Tribune, n+1, the Marshall Project, and Mother Jones Investigations. The Guardian isn’t bad either.
It’s hard to imagine that paying for print journalism in a world with an ad-revenue driven internet could make a difference, but I am ever hopeful! If you subscribe to any newspapers/magazines, I’d love to hear what they are!