1. Don’t Let Trump Control the Narrative
National media outlets were the biggest donors to Trump’s 2016 campaign. Collectively, they gave him $5 billion worth of airtime for nothing. Polling numbers predicting a big Trump loss allowed media moguls to sleep at night while they amplified—oftentimes without context or correction—the vilest rhetoric we’ve heard from a national figure, all while ignoring or under-covering stories worthy of attention. In the thousand autopsies of 2016, this wall-to-wall coverage was universally criticized. And yet, though fact-checking has gotten a little better, mainstream outlets STILL keep running with Trump’s headlines. The caravan. The Tariff Man. The Totally Cleared President. Every time the Trump gets a fact-free headline, they’re effectively disseminating misinformation, which is against the rules! Moreover! The practice contributes to a world where the only thing we hear is the frothy nonsense of objectively the dumbest American in the country. If we are what we read—or whatever floods our feed— we’re headed for trouble. RICH SMITH

2. Crazy People Can Still Win Elections
...at least in Republican districts. Take, for example, Matt Shea, the Washington lawmaker who won a fifth term in office just weeks after local media revealed that he distributed a manifesto entitled “A Biblical Basis for War.” While Rep. Shea has yet to propose any legislation about stoning heretics to death, he has proposed dividing the state in two—which, now that I think about it, might not be a bad thing after all. The lesson here? Literally anyone can run for office—and win. KATIE HERZOG

3. Some People Actually Like Ted Cruz
Teddy was one of the many meme presidential candidates in the 2016 election that Democrats loved to ridicule for his absolute unlikeability. Cruz’s off-putting personality and cloying rhetoric are what define him, but one thing that should be abundantly clear now is that there MUST be people out there who like him. In the 2018 elections he beat sexiest-Texan-alive, Beto O’fucking’Rourke. People SHOWED UP to Cruz’s election night party, and there is no evidence that they were paid to do so. Will we never learn the lesson that there are actual breathing people out there who genuinely like Ted Cruz? MICHAEL BELL

4. Don’t Engage In Twitter Fights
As Andrew Gillum’s grandmother always said: “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it.” Something about Twitter’s format—the limited number of characters, the instant notifications, the ability to corner people in their DMs, the piles of rhetorical slop everywhere—turns everyone into bratty pigs. No matter what the issue is, both combatants end up looking petty, pedantic, and dull. However, if you MUST engage, there’s only one way to win a Twitter fight, and Stormy Daniels has shown us the way. You have to be funnier, more casual, and prepared with more receipts than your opponent. Unless you can come into the “conversation” with those three weapons, then it’s best to just let the offending Tweet wash away in the chaos of the feed. Brush off the barb. As someone who has gotten in a number of clumsy, overly righteous, unnecessarily pugnacious, and utterly regrettable Twitter battles—this is coming from the heart. RICH SMITH

5. Trump Is “Unfit” to Be President
Well before the 2016 elections, President Obama warned us: Donald Trump is “unfit” to be President of the United States. Other people warned us, too. And yet here we are, riding every twist and turn of the harrowing, hallucinatory Trump presidency (a presidency that proves those early warnings correct daily, if not hourly). Why is a president whose own high-level appointees call him unfit still in office? It’s a question to ask until it doesn’t need asking anymore. ELI SANDERS

6. Don't Engage in Twitter Fights We Need to Stop Using Twitter
Donald Trump won the presidency by a tiny fraction of the vote—just 107,000 votes in three states gave him the election—which means a lot of different factors added up to Trump winning, including Twitter. This is the platform that he uses to directly communicate his typo-riddled, fake news messages to his rabid Republican followers. This fact alone should give journalists pause when using this platform. Yet we continue to see journalists fork over their entire reporter’s notebooks onto this billionaire-owned platform, giving all of their work away for free to a tech company that specializes in encouraging breathless base-level criticism. Twitter has certainly produced some positive change in the world, especially in galvanizing around breaking news stories, but it remains primarily a tool of tyrants and those people who consider the internet to be a tool for turning small pieces of criticism into breathless outrage. If there’s one lesson to be learned from 2016 it’s that Twitter should be used limitedly and carefully, if it’s used at all. LESTER BLACK

7. You Can't Always Tell What an Election Night Means on Election Night
We’ve sorta learned this lesson here in Seattle, where all mail-in voting gets people conditioned to the fact that a lot of voters procrastinate, and so a lot of ballots get mailed on Election Day, and therefore a significant percentage of the vote can’t be tallied until days after an election, which means hang on a second before you make big pronouncements about even mildly close races. But somehow the national media—and the cable news media in particular—can’t seem to abide a national Election Day that doesn’t end with a clear answer on Election Night, so that by the Morning After some well-paid anchor can look into the camera and say, for example, “The blue wave failed to materialize…” This was a very common line the day after the 2018 midterms, when the number of House seats Democrats had flipped was only in the 20s, giving Dems control of the chamber but not by a hugely impressive margin. But hang on! Now that more ballots have been counted, the Democrats have flipped more than 40 House seats and it looks like midterm turnout was off the charts this cycle. Hey Election Night pundits: Hold on a second! ELI SANDERS

8. The System Really Is Rigged
Donald Trump wants you to believe that the reason he lost the popular vote in 2016 isn’t that over half the country would rather see him dead than in the White House, it’s because Democrats and Mexicans were sneaking into the polls to vote for Hillary Clinton two or four or 10 times. He’s lying, but that doesn’t mean the system isn’t rigged. All across the U.S., but especially in swing states like North Carolina and Ohio, Republican lawmakers have drawn district lines in order to benefit their own party instead of the people they are supposed to be representing. This means that Democrats have to show up in larger numbers than Republicans to win the same number of seats—and it’s perfectly fucking legal. KATIE HERZOG

9. These Free Speech Preaching Republicans Are Up to Something
No! It’s not about Free Speech when the Proud Boys, led by failed-Senate candidate Joey Gibson, march through downtown Portland or try to open-carry semi-automatic weapons on the University of Washington campus. These chodes create a real Catch 22—we’re tired of protesting them, they’re not particularly super interesting, but their god-fearing grandstanding draws the likes of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. If we don’t show up then we let that speech go on. But if we do show up we give them what they want: a cause and a platform. NATHALIE GRAHAM

10. You Don’t Have Freedom of Speech on Facebook (or Twitter, or Google, or Tumblr…)
When people on both the left and right shout about how Facebook (or some other social media giant) is silencing their personal “free speech,” they are getting something seriously, dangerously wrong. Although Facebook, in particular, has been allowed to become so large and ubiquitous that it can seem like the public square, it is, in fact, a private company. So is Twitter. So is Google. And so are… The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Stranger. Just like The Stranger can’t be forced by the government or your own personal shouting to publish something we don’t want to publish, Facebook is under no obligation to allow you to say whatever you want on a platform it owns, controls, and moderates. Facebook can kick you off if it doesn’t like you. Facebook can kick everyone off if it has a bad day and just says, “Fuck it." If you want to be mad about something related to free speech, consider being outraged at how the rise of digital communications monopolies has so warped our sense of reality that many Americans now see Facebook and Twitter as holding the keys to their First Amendment rights, rather than the Constitution. ELI SANDERS

11. White Women Are Not a Monolith
Surprise! Once again, we learned white women aren’t necessarily going to vote for Democratic candidates just because Republicans want to take away their healthcare and are okay with alleged rapists sitting in office. Why might they feel this way? Well, it may be hard to imagine, but some white women really do disagree with progressive values and no amount of Shout Your Abortion memes is going to change this. So what to do about white women who vote Republican? Ignore them, and concentrate on getting people to the polls who don’t think the morning after pill is Literal Murder. KATIE HERZOG

12. Candy Corn Is Bad
Over a year ago, Editorial Director Dan Savage was hit by a metaphorical dump truck when he saw the Hypercritical piece Rich Smith somehow snuck into print under his nose. Dan responded with a physically-threatening counterpoint that included a poll that showed a small majority of Slog readers don’t hate candy corn. In fact, they agreed that it is—shudders—great. Then, earlier this year, Rich received, what to him could only be taken as an attack, a massive bag of the foul, foul substance colloquially referred to as candy. Lord, oh lord, how many years will this discussion persist? MICHAEL BELL