Also published on Democracy Chronicles
Are you tired of the worldwide media plague of the past few years, Donald Trump? One might think that such attention serves critical examination and sensible values. However, the secondary effect is that the debate leads people back to the old and familiar, thus blocking a critique of the current political system.
A few days ago we had a children’s party at our house. While sitting around the kitchen table, the subject of ghost stories came up and one of the nine-year-olds exclaimed: "What if Trump popped up at the window!"
The other day I was sitting on the train reading one of my favorite North American magazines which has undercurrents of anarchy, anti-consumerism and is full of great writing. But before I actually started to browse through it I thought to myself: ”Wonder how many pages before I see him”. One, two, three, four ... there he was – complete with grotesque scowl. Yet another one, to add to the many thousands already published in the ordinary media. With a sigh I put the issue back in my rucksack.
And when I attempt to gauge the temperature of the political debate, visiting traditional as well as alternative and progressive news sites regardless of whether in my own country or the United States; there he is. Day after day, same old thing.
Even when I'm sitting in the audience among progressive activists, within less than a few minutes his name is whispered.
How long is this going to last? This is one of the worst political psychosis I've experienced; a political traffic jam that just won’t clear.
And everyone is contributing: politicians, film directors, activists, intellectuals and, not least, the news media. According to surveys, he is the president who, during his first year, has had by far the most attention. And, also according to surveys, he is the president most disliked by the media for 25 years. Moreover, there is an unusually large amount of focus directed on him as a person. He has transformed news media into something that more resembles celebrity gossip. They point their fingers, their jaws drop in shocked amazement, they speculate as well as persistently cite facts that will support their self-image as innocent victims of this monster. He shouts back, they respond and boo. This hate-love drama becomes apparent to those who stand outside the ring and see the two opponents, each wearing a clown’s red nose, chasing each other round and round in their media/political circus act.
Some people probably think that this is some kind of speech in defense of Trump. But in this report, I have no wish particularly to condone Trump and his policies - I will neither support nor despise them. Here he is neutral, if anyone still remembers what political objectivity is. Yes, I understand the outrage; his contempt for women, disdain of ethnic groups, climate denial, opportunism, rudeness, the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - but nevertheless: there are more important things in the world than his views on these issues.
For example, that the western world is experiencing social decline, or the increase in public apathy and indifference to today's democracy. You who still choose not to prioritize subjects such as the decay of civilizations in favor of the man with the blonde forelock, just consider that Trump would never have been elected if people hadn’t been so indifferent to the old society.
Are you also aware that in your Trump-mania, you are now standing side by side with the most destructive forces? Those who also do not want him as he creates imbalance in their conservative “ecosystem”, a growing western caste system, where ever fewer people are being given ever more. Those who neglect human dignity and democratic participation. When you look contemptuously at those who voted for the monster and vilify them with rhetorical conservative catchwords as ‘populists’, you are supporting not only political technocrats and corporate capitalists but also lobbyists and globalists. They stand right behind, thanking you for your attention or, more accurately, lack of attention.
Thriving in this political darkness are weeds such as, for example, David Letterman’s interview with Barack Obama after his departure; a self- righteous, democratic feel-good interview that came across as passé as Hollywood’s touched up presidential portraits. Or the well-meaning Morgan Freeman in his series "The story of us", where he admiringly interviews Bill Clinton about the excellence with which democracy is pursued in the "free world". I mean, exactly who is free here? You can’t move a metre without being beholden to someone else. You are an economic piece of Lego in a model that you never asked for or had any influence over.
Do you protest against Trump because you want to turn the clock back or because you want to create something new?
The point is that it is not the political figureheads who determine the system in the United States or anywhere else but an unwritten agreement between economic, political and media interests; a culture maintained by an establishment. The president or government are appointed by the system, they don’t change the system. They can create political and economic turbulence around the world, but they never change the status quo, they act within the framework that loses credibility day by day. Meanwhile, the progressive social innovators, system critics and social pioneers have been at the circus. They have been there for a few years now, watching the same performance over and over again: "Trump the Chump". Enclosed in a political tent without oxygen - yet another silly political pantomime at which we are expected to boo or applaud. A dream that has come true for The Establishment.