I was making breakfast and packing my kid’s lunch the other day, listening to the news on public radio, and I was surprised to hear him gasp:
“How does that even make any sense??”
News of our sensationalist president had caught the ears of our 11-year-old.
I was frying eggs, half-listening to whatever the latest scandal was: Something about an alleged affair, and how could he say he didn’t know her and then acknowledge paying her to keep quiet?
My son is hardly what you’d call a news nerd. I’ll draw his attention to a story on Science Friday every now and then. By and large he’s apolitical. He probably figures we adults made this circus, and we’d better figure it out before he grows up.
But something had offended his logic circuits amid the constant barrage of the insane drama that is the Trump Administration, and prompted his outraged cry:
“How does that even make any sense?!”
A significant part of the electorate has decided they’d rather be entertained by politics than informed; amplified by a profit-oriented media which have allowed themselves to be splintered into partisan camps, transforming us from an informed public into the raucous crowd at a pro wrestling match.
Can Trump detractors hope to put an end to the greatest reality show of all time? A tragicomic horror most of us literally cannot look away from, it dominates our discourse through every hot-button issue it can get its greedy little hands on: Everything from sports to religion, racism, trade, guns, abortion, climate change, immigration and nuclear war.
The drama itself is nothing new, nor is the sensationalist media which feeds off it. It’s just been waiting for a guy like Donald Trump to come along and grab center stage, wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. It’s true: A lot of people would be a lot poorer if Trump went away, and most of them are responsible for how information flows in our society.
My mom, back in the Midwest, blames me for Trump because I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. I warn her in turn about the dangers of political dynasties, remind her about the “Clinton Doctrine,” as well as the fact that “Hatred of Hillary” has been festering on the right like an open sore for a generation: The Democrats put a compromised candidate forward to oppose a strong populist, and paid for it.
And yet women like my mom are voting, running for office, writing their representatives, attending meetings and marching, in every community in America. They’re making lists and taking names, and for as many Trump supporters as I’ve encountered guffawing at the smoke coming out of the ears of most liberals, it’s the hard eyes of people like her I see, everywhere I look: Across desks and counters, in airports and restaurants, at meetings, at the wheel and on the streets; women like my mother are going about the business of making everyone else’s lives work, and getting more and more determined about what they’re going to do in November.
Sure, the drama is really…bad: “Reality” TV has taken over the executive branch, and threatens to be a cancer engulfing government at every level; but we have only ourselves to blame.
A nation of TV watchers who care more with conveniences than the ideas which underpin our republic, who would rather be entertained than informed, have created an environment of style over substance, which doesn’t have time for the messy realities of democratic process, much less self-government. They want a strongman who will do things for them; who will tell them what they want to hear, regardless of whether or not it’s true.
In a couple of months we’ll see who prevails in the national dialogue: Mad mothers or the profit motive. Whichever it is, corporate media (“liberal” only as in “neoliberal”) will continue to sell our form of government back to us at a profit, forcing whoever gets in office to spend more time grubbing for money than actually doing their jobs, until we change that. Are we that interested?
• Jamison Paul is a concerned parent, commercial fisherman and longtime Alaska resident who lives in Douglas.