Eric Trump, the son of the elected president Donald Trump, recently took to his family’s favorite social media outlet to make a statement about the Wisconsin recount. Unfortunately, his statement contained a rather basic intellectual error. The internet was quick to point it out, and Twitter has been filled with iterations of different responses to Eric Trump’s statement for days.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein has raised funds to prosecute an electoral recount in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Each state has its own challenges and particular situation, and media commentators have broadly viewed each recount separately. Ms. Stein’s intention is to perform recounts in states where her vote tally was closest to 5 percent, as that is the minimum amount necessary to win federal matching funding for the Green party campaign expenditures. She has expressed no preference between Clinton and Trump, and has been harshly critical of both. The recount efforts are entirely because of the Green Party and their quest for electoral significance. Nevertheless, the Trump camp appears to have chosen to take her actions as a personal affront upon the Trump administration.
This controversy began when Eric Trump commented that the money spent on the Wisconsin recount effort could have being used for other purposes. In this case, he equated it to the theoretical saving of children’s lives, and said that money could have stopped 5000 children from dying of malaria. In defense of this concept he linked to an article written in Forbes Magazine online.
However, this is an intellectual error. Money could almost always be diverted to any number of wonderful humanitarian causes, yet it rarely is. This is something that every human being alive is partially responsible for, so it is fruitless and hypocritical of us to criticize each other for it.
As Twitter represents the sum total intelligence and attention of several million people, their responses to this error were swift and sure. Eric Trump’s hypocrisy was pointed out in a variety of ways, concentrating on his tax write-offs and ostentatious wealth. Many issues of greater pressing concern and more direct responsibility to the Trump family were raised. It was also mentioned that the Trump campaign was more than willing to point out problems with the American electoral system when they thought they were losing the presidential race.
The Trump family’s signature style with the media is casually confrontational. Eric Trump’s particular error in this matter is not of great importance to either him or to anyone else. It simply further establishes that which was broadly known. The Trump family is not particularly worth listening to. Although they may control the machinery of power, their intellectual underpinnings are extremely shallow. What they do is of great importance to the world. What they say should be taken with a grain of salt.
The truth is that the American electoral system is seriously flawed in a number of different ways. This problem affects us all. It is well within Ms. Stein’s rights to raise money for important causes. In fact, that is what she is supposed to do. She was directly concerned in the election and was underserved in her own way, as were Clinton, Trump, Sanders and many others. Our system is deeply unreliable and the difficulty of getting a recount should be a sign of great concern to those with an interest in our voting system’s integrity. American electoral reform is in the interest of every American. The only people who don’t agree are always the ones who won the most recent election, when they always seem to forget so quickly.