Last Week Tonight host John Oliver on Sunday concisely summarized the Republican National Convention in one sentence: "He just brought a feeling to a fucking fact fight."
Throughout the convention, Republican speakers — including Donald Trump — argued that the crime rate was skyrocketing, unauthorized immigration is going up, the economy is getting worse, and terrorism is killing a record number of Americans. Antonio Sabato Jr., an actor who spoke at the convention, even said that President Barack Obama is a Muslim.
None of these things are true: Crime has dropped since Obama took office, the number of unauthorized immigrants has fallen, the economy is growing, and deaths from terrorism are still, thankfully, very rare in the US. And Obama is a Christian.
But as Oliver suggested, speakers seemed completely unmoved by these facts. "What is truly revealing," Oliver said of Sabato’s comments, "is that his implication that believing something to be true is the same as it being true. Because if anything, that was the theme of the Republican convention this week. It was a four-day exercise in emphasizing feelings over facts."
There’s one big reason Republicans may not care about the facts: Despite the clear crime statistics, most Americans feel crime is up. Republican convention speakers tapped into that sentiment — on crime and other issues — to paint an America collapsing into chaos, regardless of what the empirical figures say.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich even said as much in an interview on CNN: "As a political candidate, I’ll go with how people feel, and I’ll let you go with the theoreticians."