Maybe Trump TV will troll Biden nightly and present endless “I was robbed,” conspiracy theories on the 2020 election. Alternatively, reports suggest Trump will start Trump 2024 on inauguration day. The theatrical impact of this could be massive. Trolled by the cheated “real” president. Lots of airtime for that. The guy’s a genius troll.
Bar last minute evidence of truly monumental, deep state election fraud, Trump’s time is running out. However, nothing it seems should be fully discounted in our Reality TV political reality until the series finishes. After all, the more bizarre the plot twist the more engaged we are. Just imagine the ratings boost and advertising $$$ news networks and websites will enjoy if Mr Orange has one last dramatic episode to play. Cue breathless emotional presenter and editorials.
My last article, pre-election, said Trump would probably win. I was wrong and it is a relief to see the end of President Trump. But his powerful draw was clearly displayed. Can we escape from the immense gravitational force that draws us into continued Trumpian dystopia?
Do we even want to escape it? Or will we be sucked in by the great political showman in collusion with media that mainly oppose him but secretly love him too. Both share an essential need for our attention. The BBC, Channel 4, NBC, NYT, Guardian, Telegraph, and others are all tabloid hypermedia sensation machines with snippets of real, informative news woven in. Twitter and Facebook are off-the-scale perpetrators of daily unreality. YouTube, well, let’s not go there.
How can we save ourselves from the never-ending noise and insanity of Trumpian politics? My greatest hope is that we simple tire of it and shun it rather than be triggered by agent orange. Biden’s done a good job so far in ignoring Trump’s baiting as well as the calls from the more pugnacious members of his coalition who want always to go toe-to-toe with Trump at every opportunity. That would only ensure more airtime for Trump.
“How can we save ourselves from the never-ending noise and insanity of Trumpian politics?”
Biden’s calmness and sanity has probably been the most effective riposte to Trump’s mad-land tactics since the election. Hopefully they are characteristics we come to value greatly. Sadly, I fear Biden will be overwhelmed and appear politically dull and infirm when faced with unceasing economic problems, political divisions and hysterical heckling from Trump ramped to the max by our hypermedia.
I fear Biden’s calming strategy worked only because we needed a rest from the constant political insanity layered on top of a pandemic. With the relief of approaching vaccination we might unwittingly but enthusiastically slip back into the stramash of perpetual nonsense.
The media will conspire with Trump to deliver this outcome, It’s energised by the agitation and adrenaline that Trump engenders, keeping viewing numbers and clicks as high as possible. Despite high ideals, too many of us will be sucked in and triggered by Orange. The gravitational pull is irresistible. Truly, if we are lucky, Trump’s health will diminish him. An unpleasant sentiment but it’s the only safe route out in coming years. I fear Trump TV will prove just too compulsively captivating.
Trump is the master of our zeitgeist.
Winning it back isn’t a battle of countervailing big ideas, or moralistic calls for justice, fairness, decency or hearts and minds. Rather, the only way to beat it is to focus on the boring stuff. Tune out Steve Bannon, Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, Nigel Farage, Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg, etc., and those calling for immediate end to one injustice or another (yes, the right is as keen to end injustice as the left, they just see it through a different lens). All are paralysing engines of outrage leading us nowhere.
Injustice and unfairness is ever present and we do ourselves damage when we virtue signal about ending it, now! In anything approaching a functional society change doesn’t just happen. It evolves over years and decades. We’ve always been slovenly in our response to the need for change as society’s a juggernaut not a Ferrari. Do it quickly, no matter how just, and we slip into an authoritarian slipstream.
“Trump is the master of our zeitgeist.”
Climate emergency? Just STFU would you! If your environmental movement doesn’t embrace my Scottish, rural, Tory stepmother-in-law, it’s a thorough waste of society’s time. She’s a top frugal environmentalist. She doesn’t get it all right but she’s open to persuasion as she believes in saving the environment and resources and is concerned for future generations. But you guys shut her out as her political bias isn’t kosher enough.
All that Extinction Rebellion is sure to achieve is the thorough disillusionment and subsequent fundamental radicalisation into acts of violence of some members. If a non-carbon energy transition is the goal then I’m only listening to you if you put nuclear power front and centre.
I’d prefer an alternative to hydrocarbons and uranium but as we can’t wait we’d better choose the lesser evil. Because the alternative is to use massively less energy and no environmental movement is selling a reduced energy future before the actual environmental apocalypse gets here.
If we’re to overcome this go-nowhere, radical freneticism we have trapped ourselves in, we should be guided by the Alcoholics Anonymous approach: take it one day at a time, with faith in a better endpoint even if we don’t quite know what that is or even how it will feel.
“Strong views get clicks and eyeballs.”
Rather than align with some grand volte-face “ism” perhaps we can be iteratively more liberal and inclusive. That can push left or right politically but we’ve got to start from where we are and build. There is no slate to wipe clean except in the mad radical and activist world that is now amplified for our infotainment through our hypermedia insanity machine. Strong views get clicks and eyeballs. I’m sceptical we can keep playing it like Biden though with Trump waiting for our stumble back into his mad dystopia.
Our motto can be “Time to act the Koch.” The left and progressives hate the Koch brothers. For good reason – they have thrown megatonnes of cash into climate change denial, libertarian causes, criminal justice reform and so on while heading up the second biggest privately owned company in the US, industrial conglomerate, Koch Industries. Since the late 1970s those guys have completely outplayed their opponents.
Best to move past hating them and realise that they won by setting in motion a hugely heavy flywheel, starting slow and building speed until the momentum became unstoppable. People say it was their deep pockets that won. This is wrong. Their ideas won as they built and built to normalise them. They pushed with the grain and took their opportunities to nudge it in their direction.
Embrace your inner Koch.