Citizenship in a Post-Truth Era

Common myths have paved the way for demagogues

Without an agreed upon set of facts, politics in the U.S. has devolved into a mud-slinging match based on lies, myths, and distortion. This does not allow for good public policy decisions that help the majority of U.S. citizens.

Size of Government: shows the federal budget as a percentage of GDP trended over time. Shows US spending compared to other countries. Shows relative sizes of our safety nets and education spending. Show ROI in terms of wage growth, life expectancy, education levels, infant mortality, etc.

Long before the current "fake news" phenomenon, U.S. voters have been misled by a well-funded disinformation campaign that has led a majority of voters to be misinformed about a core set of facts critical to understanding the policy positions of major candidates and ballot initiatives. Our public schools, fact-checking websites and professional journalism have all failed to properly educate U.S. voters. What is needed is a radically different approach reliant on digital media and content marketing. 

Here are a few core myths held by many U.S. voters. Civics Nation is dedicated to destroying these and other myths: 

Myth #1) "Government is never a solution, only a problem" is the primary myth. The healthcare debate is driven by this myth. So is the "trickle down economics" myth. At Civics Nation, we believe sometimes government offers the best solution to problems. We do not believe that government is the best solution to every problem. 

Myth #2) Immigrants are an extreme danger and bad for the economy / Obama oversaw open borders with little to no vetting of refugees or immigrants. (Fact: most Americans think immigrants are 32% of the population, but they are only 13%. Undocumented immigrants are 3%).

Myth #3) America has been taken advantage of by the rest of the world, especially China and NATO (Fact: Americans believe foreign aid is 31% of the federal budget, but it is only 1%).

Myth #4) The "welfare queen" myth, which includes the idea that our inner cities are disastrous hell-holes destroyed by social programs that destroy work incentives and the false idea that BLM is a terrorist organization protesting non-existent racism.

Myth #5) Mainstream news media has a mostly liberal bias and is "fake news."

Myth #6) Real Americans and Christians are under siege -- liberals, Sharia and Islam are taking over the US and the world. (Fact: Americans believe Muslims are 17% of the US population, but they are only 1%).

Myth #7) Climate Change is fake, a conspiracy and "clean coal" is a real thing.

Myth #8) A national economy with centralized banking works just like a household economy or business.

Myth #9) The size of government exploded under Obama like it always does under Democrats.

Myth #10) Violent crime in the US is at an all-time high (Fact: it's actually at a 50-year low).

Myth #11) Planned Parenthood is mostly an abortion mill that uses my tax money for abortions.

Civics Nation helps to eliminate this type of misinformation through a steady stream of targeted content delivered across social media and digital ad networks. For example, Your Government at Work is a video documentary series that interviews government workers and documents publicly funded projects to show Americans their tax dollars at work. With help from our friends in Hollywood, we can give it a fighting chance to go viral.

Other videos and infographics include:

Immigration: graphically shows what 11 million illegal immigrants look like as a percentage of the total population and workforce. Show immigrant crime rates compared to the total population. Then, shows the amount undocumented workers pay into Social Security and to the IRS.

Food Stamps: shows food assistance as a percentage of the budget (2.8%), then as a percentage of those on food stamps who work (40%) and show the percentage of the non-workers who are disabled, elderly or children (about 80% of the remainder). Shows the remaining percentage and what a small percentage (.3%) of the total budget that incredibly small percentage of possible waste in Food Stamps.