In baseball, there is a sabermetric called WAR. That stands for Wins Above Replacement. In essence, this statistic creates a hypothetical player considered to be run of the mill average player at their position. Let me restate, this player does not exist in reality, but is a place of measurement of what an average player would look like. It calculates a player’s complete contribution to the team. It takes into consideration all parts of the game: hitting, running, and defense (there are different metrics for pitchers).
Using this is a metaphor, what if we were to create a WAR for the president. Since the president is so fond of #winning, what if he were judged against an average replacement president. For the purposes of this argument, I will suggest that the average president sticks with the status quo. Things don’t get better. Things don’t get worse. Average.
So, we would need to construct some metrics. Now, normally this would be done with numbers, but I don’t have the statistical expertise (although I do stats) to construct something like this. So, we are going to look at the big picture.
I will consider the following topics:
Freedom of the Press
Environment and Climate
Using these markers, how would our current president compare to a replacement. If the president is above average, I will give a point. If nothing is different. If things are worse, a point will be deduced.
Economics: This is a tricky one. There are many measures of the economy.
Employment—Unemployment is low, really low. While there is underemployment, +1.
Production—Production is high. While the effect of the tariffs is only starting to hit, as of right now, +1.
Wages—Wages are stagnant. While there is a slight increase, inflation is flat lining it. Also, it is around 3%. If you are making minimum wage, that is 21 cents., -1.
Spending—Spending is up, but that means fewer savings. As the shutdown has shown, many are paycheck to paycheck, -1.
Corporate Profits—Way up, +1.
Trickle Down from Tax Cut—Nope. Not much, -1.
Stock Market: Damn. This is tricky. The market is volatile. Perhaps more so than it has been in a long time. Overall, the stock market is up. But, if you look at long term trends of percentage growth, it is about the same. While there was a huge grown in 2016, there was also a huge growth (about the same size) in 2013. In fact, since 2009, there have only been two years of an average decline, 2015 and 2018. The 2018 decline was twice as big (https://www.macrotrends.net/1319/dow-jones-100-year-historical-chart). 0
Freedom of the Press: It is appalling. There seems to be something now called the Fake News. It was created by the creator of the most fake news. Credentials are being revoked. Journalists threatened. Propoganda abounds. -1
Human Rights: So, we have had tons of rollbacks. From religion to skin color to gender to sexuality to socio-economic status to health, the Trump administration is attacking human rights (unless you are white). Too many to list, but feel free to browse (https://civilrights.org/trump-rollbacks/).
National Perception: There is a solid 40% that worships at the feet of Trump. No matter what he says or does, they are fine. The other 60%. Well, no. At all. So, while supporters are fervent in their support (and loud), that overall national perception isn’t great (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_trump_job_approval-6179.html).
International Perception: According to the Pew Research Center, the international confidence in Trump stands at 27%. In fact, confidence change from Obama to Trump has dropped 76 points in Germany (https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/international-view-of-trump-735190/). -1
International Relations: Let’s see. Met with North Korea. Looks like they are still building bombs. Insulted Trudeau on an international stage. Alienating much of Europe. Love affair with Putin. Dissolving nuclear arms treaty. Not a pretty picture.
Education: There is a strong movement by the Department of Education to gut public education, rollback diversity policy, and increase funding to charter schools and vouchers. -1
Environment and Climate: According to the National Geographic Society, Trump has rolled back many policies that we aimed at slowing climate change. In addition, all of the following have occurred (https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/how-trump-is-changing-science-environment/) :
Executive order calls for sharp logging increase on public lands
EPA criminal enforcements hit 30-year low
Trump nominates Andrew Wheeler to permanent EPA job (former coal lobbyist)
Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Coal Rules
Interior Eases Drilling Controls Protecting Sage Grouse
First offshore oil wells approved for the Arctic
EPA to Disband Air Pollution Review Panel
Poverty: Since Trump took office, he has worked with Republicans to gut assistance programs, food stamps, children’s insurance programs, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed rent increases for low cost housing.
Immigration: Well, Mexico didn’t pay for the wall. In fact, the government was shut down over the wall. A false narrative of immigrants has been created so that some people have someone to blame. Are there many people that entered the country illegally? Yes. Did some of them work for Trump on his properties? Yep. This manufactured emergency is just that.
So, when we total it up, it would appear that Trump is a -8 compared to a fictional, average president. What does this mean? Things aren’t working.
I say we contact some other countries. Perhaps we could make a trade. Trump and his cabinet for some other world leaders.
Who would you trade for? Or would you just trade them for cash considerations and we have a new draft?
False Equivalence and the Right
A couple of days ago, someone posted the following statement on his Facebook page, “HEY REPUBLICANS! Please don’t object to expanded background checks for gun purchases. The Dems are begging for it...give it to them.... with this caveat...all voter registrations have to be handled with the same process. (Please wear protective gear when suggesting this to your favorite liberal. Pretty sure their head will explode.)” This is a person of influence (to some) with a wide audience.
It is the worst kind of manipulation and pandering to his base.
If we look at these words, the largest issue is the blatant use of false equivalence. False equivalence is a logical fallacy in which something is suggested to being the same as something else for the purpose of an argument. But, they are not. In this case, there is a false equivalence between gun purchases and voting.
Let’s look at the issue of legality. According to the Heritage Foundation (conservative think tank), there have been 1,177 verifiable cases of voter fraud in the U.S. in the last 18 years. According to the Gun Violence Archive (which gets its information from new reports), there have been 1,459 deaths from gun violence this year (we are on day 39). So, voter registration isn’t really that much of a problem. Guns are. Saying that voter registration needs the same kind of background check as a gun purchase is ridiculous.
By comparing a gun purchase to voter registration, a huge false equivalence is created. These two things only have one thing in common. They are in the Constitution (and in reality, the universal right to vote is not in there). In fact, voting has evolved immensely over time, where the 2nd amendment hasn’t. By comparing the two, it is only creating a myth about voting.
Now the second issue I have with this argument is the opening.
Obviously, the writer had to make sure he reached his audience. Therefore, the intro. However, this is directing the false equivalence to one side by pairing it with gun ownership. And directing it to only one side. By screaming to his particular audience, he created a fake argument that would get rile them up.
My third issue with the argument is the use of an ad populum attack on the left. By ending the post with the idea of sharing with a liberal so their heads would explode, it is creating a further division in the conversation. Yes, I know it is for ratings, but with the decline in civility and fracturing of society in the last two years, there is no call for it.
My issue is that shortcuts, logical fallacies, and fear have replaced thought, logic, and evidence. The right will believe anything if there is a single piece of evidence. They will rely on news that isn’t news. They will do what they are told. We need to be thoughtful in our conversations. We need to be thoughtful to each other. We need to discuss things logically and try to come to decisions.
Now, I will admit, my head almost did explode. But, not for the stupid post. It almost exploded because of the manipulation of his audience.
With the exception of a year, I have been a teacher or a student for my entire life. I have taught on many different levels. I have been a middle school teacher (okay, for one semester for student teaching...because of this, I have a profound respect for middle school teachers), high school, undergraduates and graduate students. I have coached soccer in youth leagues and high school. Education is in my blood.