Heidi M. Pascual*
Publisher & Editor
* 2006 Journalist of the Year for the State
of Wisconsin (U.S.-SBA)
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Alternative Facts and
Alternative Endings
The phrase “alternative facts” stole the limelight recently when Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Donald Trump,
used it to defend White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s statement regarding the attendance at the presidential
inauguration as the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration,” an obviously false statement. This issue went viral
and tons of negative feedback filled social media outlets as well as regular media networks. I was stunned all over again
because we all know that the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama drew a much bigger turnout. It was funny to
even compare ridership figures in the DC Metro between the inauguration of 2017 versus that of 2013 as basis for such
assertion that Trump’s inauguration had the “largest audience...”

Because the term “alternative facts” seems to now be accepted as truth by this new administration, if convenient and suits
their purpose, I can surmise that the mere perception of people of color, especially non-Christians and Muslims, as
probable terrorists, falls under that category. Accepting “alternative facts” gave way to Trump’s travel restrictions that a
number of federal judges understandably turned down.

I am equally bothered by the use of “alternative facts” in Congressional budget policy matters. An article by Harry Stein of the
Center for American Progress thoroughly discussed this issue, and Stein wrote:

“...it is particularly problematic for sound budget policy, which requires an honest evaluation of the cost of new legislation and
the nation’s overall fiscal health. Data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, is the main bulwark
against false budget information. But lawmakers can always choose to use misinformation instead of CBO data. Moreover, if
Congress follows through on its apparent plans to pass temporary tax and health measures, the resulting fiscal ambiguity will
also make CBO data more nebulous. A lack of clarity in CBO data makes it easier for dishonest politicians to claim their
fiscal falsehoods are actually just alternative facts.”


“Alternative facts” is now at another level, and it’s scary to think it might also be used regularly by different government
agencies as basis for policy directions that undermine citizens’ rights, the Constitution, our environment, and even
democracy itself.

The repeal of Affordable Care Act would also be based on alternative facts, I am sure, the alternative of choosing between
benefiting health insurance companies or the masses of our people who couldn’t afford to be insured without ACA.
The continuing attack on subsidies to poor people, grants to nonprofits, programs for women’s rights and the like, also falls
under this acceptance of “alternative facts.” Who pays more taxes should benefit more could very well be the motto of this
new regime.

Alternative Endings

I have seen “alternative endings” of DVD movies, and it is always a pleasure to be able to choose how the movies end. Most
times, I choose to have happy endings or resolution of a big problem through compromise with justice. The important thing
is, I have the choice.

As Americans, we have the choice, as we live in a democracy. People are free to speak up and air grievances. We can go to
court to sue, to our legislators to pen or amend laws, to demonstrate and march if we want to, or to change our leaders via
election or other lawful means. We have the right to be heard and be recognized, regardless of our economic status in our
society.

It is your choice and mine to let our leaders remain in power and rule our lives this way. It is our choice to have an alternative
ending. It would be great to hear ourselves say in unison, “You’re fired!”