A Guide to the Many Smokescreens in American Politics


Since I seem to be the one coining the phrase, I might as well define what a smokescreen is: It’s a topic that holds little importance but invokes an emotional response in the realm of politics and thereby serves as a distraction that hides more pressing matters.

Smokescreens are used by both sides in politics, the government, the mainstream media, and political organizations as a means to distract voters from more important legislation.

Remember when the backup quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers took a knee on the sideline to make a statement regarding the Black Lives Matter movement?

Remember when the entire country went up in flames over the transgender North Carolina bathroom law?

Heck, do you remember the Donald Trump audio leak from 2005 when he bragged to Billy Bush about things he gets away with when he’s with women?

Lastly, do you remember when Hillary Clinton responded to a question about the Benghazi killings by saying “what difference, at this point, does it make?”

If you pay any sort of attention, you should remember all of these, they are all similar in the way that all of them hold little to no importance.

Want to know what received little to no attention in comparison? The time when President Donald Trump agreed to a $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia, the time when President Bill Clinton pardoned international criminal and mega donor Marc Rich, the time Senator John McCain met with leaders of the Free Syrian Army although many of them were affiliated with terrorist organizations, or the time that President Barack Obama gave away a politically-motivated $535 million subsidy to Solyndra.

In general, certain topics such as foreign policy, the role of the Federal Reserve, and anything to do with economics for that matter aren’t exactly the sexy issues in politics.

Here’s a quick guide to many of the distracting smokescreens in American politics:

“Trans” issues

Remember that North Carolina bathroom law? I’ll express the lack of importance mathematically. 1.4 million Americans are transgendered, or about 0.4% of the US population (over 326 million).

The population of North Carolina is 9.5million. Thus, assuming that 0.4% of that state is trans-gendered, this bill hypothetically has an effect on all of 38,000 people or .01% of the US population.

Yet, rather than trying to fix the nation’s debt of $20 trillion, people on both sides of the isle are more concerned about which toilet a few trans-gendered people in a different state use? I don’t really have any interest in enacting legislation that specifically affects a small segment of a segment of the population, so it’s time that voters of both parties stop getting so hot headed over “preferred pronouns.”

Anything Milo Yiannopoulos says

This isn’t to say I have any problem with Milo’s beliefs on free speech, but just about everything Milo says is irrelevant.

Milo has managed to take America by storm with millions of followers; yet, he spends his time dissing college liberals and writing reviews of the Ghostbusters reboot.

The majority of his time (spent blowing hot air) has nothing to do with actual issues. Rather, he spends most of his time teeing off on Black Lives Matter, modern feminists, transgender students and actresses. If Milo is the future of journalism, I’m concerned.

Just about any protest or movement

Black Lives Matter, Blue lives matter, modern feminism and Occupy Wall Street more or less top the list of things that don’t matter a whole lot.

Occupy Wall Street was a leaderless movement of a bunch of socialist protesters sleeping in nearby parks to yell about capitalism, all the while protesting the socialist bailout package, there’s no question why it died faster than socialism when the Berlin wall came down.

The feminist movement, while not completely despicable, has hurt itself for its repeating usage of fabricated, misleading, and irrelevant statistics. It’s been hijacked by radicals going viral in cases such as the #killallmen social media rants.

Like Occupy Wall Street, the messaging varies; it is leaderless and cannot account for a single legislative accomplishment besides maybe a “manspreading” law in California.

I really don’t care if people dislike my “mansplaining,” and I don’t care much about this movement.

Sexism isn’t dead and there are a few of their unorganized concerns that I can agree on, but this has caused a major diversion from vital topics. They spend far too much time complaining about imaginary issues.

I won’t hit Black Lives Matter too hard considering I sympathize with their opposition to the “police state” and their desire to end the drug war, even though the drug war is rarely mentioned.

That said, Black Lives Matter, and their even worse conservative counterparts, have become reactionary organizations that fall victim to every instance of violence.

The reality is that police deaths under the Obama administration were lower than they have been in decades and have been declining.  Deaths as a result of police violence has been falling, as well as the percentage of those that were unarmed, which is now 5%, not to mention the fact that only a quarter of those were African American.

Thus, Black Lives Matter focuses on the 25% of the 5% of unarmed police related deaths.

This isn’t to say that Police don’t make mistakes, they do, but their focus is misplaced at the very least and their violence is unjustified.

Radical Islamic terrorism

Ted Cruz, Tomi Lahren, Bill O’Reilly, and most of the conservative wing berated Barack Obama and the Democrats over not using this exact phrase, proving that conservatives can be just like leftists in choosing rhetoric over actual facts.

Essentially, instead of taking responsibility for the war-hawkish foreign policy of the Obama administration (that they believe is the reason why Obama had an awful tenure abroad) they painted him not just as a coward, but as a sympathizer.

Thus, they blatantly ignored his increased usage of drone strikes and torture and instead cared more about his wording than his actual actions.

Not only that, there hasn’t exactly been a major terrorist attack in the past fifteen years in the United States, it isn’t a common occurrence.

Last I checked, a few illiterate armed radicals hiding in Middle Eastern caves aren’t capable of waging jihad on the United States homeland, and many terrorist organizations have killed less Arab civilians than our government has; but, Fox News knows all too well that fear sells.

Anything that Sarah Silverman says

If you don’t know who Sarah Silverman is, you’re already doing well in life. Sarah Silverman is most commonly known for mistaking construction markings for swastikas and posting it on social media, as well as calling for a military coup against President Trump. These aren’t the only two dumb, hysterical, and paranoid quotes that she’s made in her entire career; these were made within two weeks of each other.

Knowing how the Democrats have done an impressive job picking horrible people to lead their party, with Schumer as Minority Leader, Clinton and Kaine as their most recent pathetic ticket, and Perez as the DNC chair, I think Sarah could land a spot in the party she so often sympathizes with.

Anything that Tomi Lahren says

Tomi Lahren has pretty much fallen victim to every single smokescreen in the book.

Rather than talking about actual news or educating the American public on real issues, this lap dog of Glenn Beck has chased headlines and ranted about talking points rather than policy or statistics.

Her notable attacks include going after Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee, swinging at Barack Obama for not using her preferred nouns when addressing terrorism, and taking a stab at Gary Johnson for having a sane position on immigration.

She’s responsible for creating zero headlines, but for chasing every single one.

Any small government organization

Remember the outrage over cutting federal aid to Meals on Wheels, the program that received less than $249,000 in government grants in 2015?

While I would be happily astonished to see the public care more about the national debt issue and openly consider cutting even miniscule programs like this, that’s not what this was about.

First off, liberals need to realize that President Trump and HUD Director Ben Carson burning a few federal checks won’t eliminate meals on wheels; especially considering private donations spiked by fifty fold in the 24 hours after the news broke out.

Second, conservatives still can’t call themselves capitalists or even fiscally conservative considering that their proposal to end this “anthill” of a federal expenditure was side by side a “mountain” of defense spending increases – totaling $54 billion.

Meals on Wheels isn’t the only example, as Planned Parenthood received a disproportionate amount of air time considering it’s relatively microscopic budget.

Every “birther” conspiracy theory

No, Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate doesn’t concern me. Want to know who else’s background doesn’t concern me? Ted Cruz. I also don’t care that Trump’s wife is Slovenian. The fact that Elizabeth Warren claimed Native American heritage doesn’t matter, nor does the fact that Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King claim to be African American.

Only in a super nationalist country like the United States can the country of origin of a politician become a larger concern than their actions and beliefs, simply because it is an easy and lazy talking point, meant to discredit a politician and imply they’re serving interests other than our own.

I care far more that the economically-illiterate leftist Senator with blonde hair and blue eyes wants a $22/hour minimum wage than if she claimed native American heritage, or than the fact that a few white liberals lied about their race to claim something other than being white.

While this may put me in the minority, the facts behind the ethnic background of an individual, regardless if it is lied about, shouldn’t change their argument and should be disregarded. End of story.


Free trade deals, defense contracts, social security reform, subsidies and mass incarceration don’t generate as much of an emotional response as Anthony Weiner’s latest sexting scandal, the latest controversial Milo Yiannopoulos statement or the most recent shooting of a black man or police officer.

The media has been used as a tool to confuse and misdirect the American public for years.

I challenge everyone to look past the viral headlines that are altogether irrelevant, and I hope that other media sources can do their best to report substantive issues in politics rather than to publish another opinion piece about a hand fed news story intended to serve as a smokescreen for the real problems and scandals in America.

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Jake Dorsch

Jake Dorsch is a libertarian activist, bank teller, investor and aspiring future economist from Green Bay, Wisconsin that is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in both political science and quantitative economics at Drake University. He is currently on track to graduate a year early and will likely continue to obtain a master’s degree in econometrics.


  1. You are a future I want to be a part of. Thank you for this. It needs to be said. I feel like the Left and the Right have misplaced their own ideals and swapped places with each other, Also, I would like to know how A.I. will be influencing econometrics in the near future. Your thoughts? Cheerio!

    • Thank you, thank you. As for A.I. and economics, there’s a really good book that I personally want to read at some point regarding AI and economics by Chen, Binner and Kendall. My general thoughts are that AI will begin to see much more use in the private sector, likely starting off in the stock market and wealth management. As for influencing public policy, I don’t see any role in the nearby future. If you haven’t noticed, most things that economists have an overwhelming consensus on such as promoting free trade, encouraging work visas for immigration, ending price controls on rent, eliminating the payroll tax and so on are rarely public policy. Thus, I believe political incompetency will prevent AI being used for economic policy in the near future, but if it were to see usage in the federal government it will likely be easiest to execute via quantitative easing, income tax burdens and entitlement spending programs.

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