Trump TV

by Leanne Ogasawara

Why would she do it?

Maybe she wanted to give the middle finger to her husband?

Maybe she wanted to send a sign to his base voters?

Why didn’t someone stop her from wearing a jacket that said, “I really don’t care.”

It was all another day of Trump TV. Another day when all eyes were on Trump. Another day when headlines ran with his name splashed across the front page all over the world. Another day when memes were shared on Facebook and twitter. And another day people expressed feeling incredibly offended over and over again.

Another day indeed–as this came on the heels of what was already a big week at Trump TV, given that the star of the show had just surprised all his viewers with news that he was stepping in to solve the problem of the detained children. Yes, he was solving a problem that he had himself created. The only possible way he could get more media attention after creating the problem was by inexplicably solving the problem, pretending that he had no idea why any of this had happened… And then the jacket.

The jacket was good for two full days at least.

Imagine for a moment a man who is very, very rich. This is no rags to riches story. No, he was born rich. He then spent his life trying to prove he was worthy of his father’s love and our respect. Built buildings and hobnobbed with the country’s elite… wasn’t he pals with the Clintons? But no matter how much money he makes, he feels antsy. Money is not enough. Neither are wives and golden towers. Sure, money can buy love but what about that other something? Yes, that’s right. He wanted to be really famous. The most famous man in the history of the world. So, he comes up with an idea. He’ll run for president. And watching conservative TV, he sees before his eyes a vision. His own network. Trump TV. And what better way to start a network than turning the US presidential elections into reality TV. It would kickstart everything.

The pundits play along. He is given more air time than anyone else. Every day he says something so outrageous that it is so newsworthy. They laugh and declare that he’ll never win.

He laughs to himself since, well, of course he won’t win. Why would he win? He has no experience. He doesn’t even want to win.

But, the camera loves him more than even he could have dreamt possible. He gets more airtime than all the rest of the actors put together. He is the guy people love to hate. He is also the guy who becomes the greatest distraction in American history. From Pussygate to Russiagate, he just keeps giving. And so unexpected is it, that people keep talking about him. People keep clicking links and sharing news about him. And he continues receiving the lion’s share of attention by orders of magnitude.

The media discover he is their cash cow. He will later joke that the media “needs” him since he is their cash cow. This was discussed at length on social media: how dare he think that? They say as more weeks go by.

He wins. Everyone is shocked. No one more than he was shocked. He knows that for months no one will talk about anything else. But then what? As he feels a sinking feeling in the depths of his stomach, he gets another idea. But then he gets distracted by something on the TV. Oh. they are talking about him. This is great! He wonders if people will always talk about him like this.

So like clockwork, every week there is a new outrage.

He’s got to stay relevant. And by relevant that means, keep people’s eyes on him instead of on issues. God forbid, he doesn’t want people’s eyes on issues. Not on social justice or infrastructure building (but surely they aren’t interested in that?) But by keeping them constantly with eyes on him maybe they won’t have time to organize a viable opposition.

Hey, it’s how he got elected and that’s how he keeps everybody off guard –because everybody is so busy watching Trump TV.

And what’s in it for him? well obviously he is becoming the most famous man in the history of the world. And this is all he ever wanted.

Of course, most of the country has been unbelievably offended for two years now. But what does he care? It’s making him rich and his friends like it too–since they are now free to go about business.

So here we are going on two years –and where is the Dem’s big plan? It’s still early but given the stakes, you would think that they would be out there getting people excited with their new vision, right?

Long before Trump (and like many people I do not think Trump is the cause of the problem but just a symptom), the Republican party has been taken over by what can only be described as a movement. And this movement has seen the win of the executive and legislative branches of government in Washington, as well as seeing a lot of wins in state governments as well. Movements tend to gain momentum and that is what the dems are up against. One man-child cannot cause our descent into racism and fascism and a Democratic president facing four more years of radical obstructionism like we saw under Obama is not the answer either.

So, what is the answer? We need to turn off Trump TV. That does not mean ignoring Trump or not resisting what he does. But as Bernie said in this video, the Democratic party needs to come up with a vision that is more than “we are not trump;” one that rejects the status quo. We need leaders. After almost two years, you would think we would have started seeing fresh, charismatic politicians that could lead the party into the future.  As much as I love Bernie, I really think we need someone not associated in voter’s mind with past failures including November 2016. But it has to be someone who can excite people with a positive vision, who can draw huge crowds, who can fire people up to work for change. Even more, the Democratic party needs renewal. That means a movement to get money out of politics. The Democrats used to be the party of unions and it needs to reconnect to its historical base as a party of the people. To attract all the young voters, we need a movement that addresses inequality and healthcare; the failure of the public-school system and free college education, the environment and social justice–all issues that young people care deeply about.

Turning off Trump TV means recognizing that he is a symptom of the problem. It means not just reacting and expressing our offense on social media. It means coming up with a vision and going on the offensive. We are losing the war. To create momentum for renewal, shared and coherent action is required. I have wondered why academics don’t form groups like a “Union of Postdocs for Political Reform” or a “Union of Concerned Academics” and band together to work under a common slogan–publishing articles and trying to raise money and influence the reform of the Democratic party.  Where I live the Episcopal church All Saints–which has a long history of working for social justice movements (including standing on the tracks to try and block trains taking Japanese citizens to internment camps during World War II)–works tirelessly. Standing on railway tracks to stop trains is not something you can do in cyberspace or on your own. Others have remarked that the liberal reaction to the scandals du jour becomes a dangerous distraction and that moral disengagement is our best option. I am not going that far–but do want to make the point that verbal resistance is not actual resistance.

Trump is quite unique in that the camera loves him. He is the character we love to hate. He is like a boil oozing pus on your leg. You know you should just stop looking and go get some medicine, but you can’t keep your eyes off it–it is simply that grotesque. It has the quality of HBO TV. It is a horror show. And either way, just by being the sole focus of our attention, Trump TV wins. And if you think about it, racism, inequality, and global warming did not kickstart on Jan. 20, 2017.

 So why did Melania wear the coat? Because it works.

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