At 2:18 pm EST on Wednesday afternoon every cell phone and television received and displayed a message entitled “Presidential Alert: THIS IS A Test of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
It should relieve every American that our country has the technological capability to alert Americans were a national emergency of existential proportions – say a nuclear exchange, asteroid, foreign invasion, etc. – to potentially occur. Indeed the legal basis and system for the alert, through the Communications Act of 1934, has apparently already been used over 40,000 times by local governments for various natural disasters and other crises in just the past half-decade alone.
Yet in our modern political climate it seemed almost doubtless that even such a seemingly unquestionable national security mechanism would become politicized. A lawsuit was already filed a few days before the test claiming worries that the president might use the system as a means of sending his own personal messages or other such content, a ludicrous theory that reflects more of its proponents than of such a possibility actually occurring.
Indeed on Twitter we saw how quickly “#PresidentialAlert” became a joke as users, largely opponents of our president, took to the platform to create memes mocking the alert as if it were used for trolling or minor notices. Many others took a more serious tone, attacking the ability of the president to be able to send such messages and claiming everything from invasion of privacy to feeling personally affronted despite the message’s lack of any opinion content or even mentioning President Trump’s name.
The fact that it seems some of our nation’s citizens are actually worried, some in jest but others in reality, that the president might abuse the system to distribute his own personal musings to everyone in the country just shows how twisted and unrealistic an image so many have of President Trump.
President Trump has now already been in office for almost two years. He has had the vast apparatus of the greatest nation in the world at his disposal and we’ve seen little to no more misuse or abuses of the system as compared with any other administration, and even perhaps less. To think otherwise is to live in a fantasyland, where seething hatred of our president overrides facts, logic, and reason.
As previously mentioned, a Presidential Alert like this is for the worst of worst cases and has a long and well-ironed out history in our country. Were a time-sensitive and devastating event to truly be coming to our nation’s shores it seems like any citizen who cares about themselves, their communities, or the country would want to be alerted.
Those who are encouraging opt-out or even dismantling of the Presidential Alert system over some personal dislike of our President are doing more than hurting our nation’s national security readiness, they are also putting themselves and their fellow citizens’ lives at risk. On a smaller scale, imagine were those affected by the recent slew of hurricanes to have opted out and been unable to receive accurate and coherent information regarding the arrival and severity of the storms - even more damage and loss of life and limb may have resulted.
It is possible our nation won’t have to use the Presidential Alert system for a long time, if ever. Nonetheless when that dreadful day comes, if so many our citizens have become so consumed by meaningless politics that they put themselves, their families, and their communities on the line for when ultimate disaster hits, then I, and I think many others, cannot help but look at them with disgust for their selfishness.
“Trump Derangement Syndrome” is real and has manifested itself in many loony ways in the President’s opponents over the past few years. Some of it has been relatively harmless while some of it has been more severe and damaging in its impact. Yet to attack some of our nation’s most fundamental national security processes is beyond the pale and a new, and dangerous, level of depravity.
I hope all those who are engaging in such antics have a serious look at themselves in the mirror and, in the wise words of a certain movie wise-man, “go home and rethink your life.”