Take a look at the picture above. What do you see?
By and large, media outlets tend to lean in one direction or the other on the political spectrum. It’s a shrewd business move, really — the average consumer doesn’t just want a dull recitation of the facts. They like to be told what those facts represent; they want the information placed in context for them, and outlets are more than happy to oblige.
Consumers can always check the news wires (Reuters, AP and the like) for the latest information and use that information to inform their stance on a given issue. If we all did that, however, there would be no need for FOX News, no need for MSNBC; those outlets exist not to give us the news, but to tell us how we should feel about the news.
This is not ideal.
There are three tenets that comprise the notion of American exceptionalism. The first is that the history of America’s founding (as a bastion of freedom and acceptance for all, regardless of their political or religious leanings) imbues the United States with different DNA than that of every other country in the world.
The second is that America’s purpose is to serve as a force for positive change in the world. And the third is that the first two tenets combined serve as incontrovertible proof that the United States is naturally superior to other nations.
As many of you have heard by now, there’s been quite the kerfuffle about this year’s Shakespeare in the Park production of ‘Julius Caesar’; specifically, its use of a Donald Trump lookalike in the role of Julius Caesar. The backlash is coming almost exclusively from the right, and the play, along with Kathy Griffin’s photo shoot, are being held up as evidence to support the narrative that liberals are bullying and threatening anyone who doesn’t agree with them, so they’re the REAL Nazis!
This is, of course, nonsense.
First things first: Trump meant to type “coverage” — it’s pretty clear based on the context of the rest of the sentence. The reason Twitter lit up for more than 24 hours was not because people genuinely didn’t understand what Trump was trying to say; rather, they were ridiculing him for:
1) Making the typo;
2) Actually tweeting the typo, and;
3) Leaving the typo up for more than an hour.
It was dumb, and Trump was roundly mocked for it, but honestly, in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t even rate in the top 100 dumbest things Trump has done in…hell, in the past year alone. You would think this would be obvious to any observer, regardless of their political leanings. And in a normal universe, Trump supporters would laugh it off and go on with their lives, and the internet – as it always does – would eventually move on.
It was reported yesterday that Fox News host Sean Hannity is taking an unexpected vacation amidst mounting backlash from his advertisers for his embrace of the bizarre and moronic conspiracy theory surrounding the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. For those unfamiliar with the case, Rich was murdered in an apparent botched robbery last July; the internet, of course, wasn’t satisfied with the official explanation for his death. And since Seth Rich was a DNC staffer, conspiracy theorists — with their Rain Man-esque compulsion to make everything, no matter how small, fit into a larger and more sinister picture — decided his death was no mere coincidence.
I recently came across an article by Katy Waldman on Slate titled “Against Retweeting Trump’s Old Tweets.” In it, Waldman makes a case that the popular practice of retweeting Donald Trump’s old tweets whenever his current actions contradict his previously-stated positions is, in fact, a Bad Thing To Do. The title alone was enough to spark my annoyance: someone deemed it worthwhile to sit down and compose a 1,200-word finger-wag about the perils of holding the President accountable for his past comments, as though this practice — which consists of finding an old Trump tweet and tapping twice on your phone in the hope that an internet stranger will find it humorous enough to like it, retweet it, or (dare to dream) follow you — will doom our society and therefore must be contained.
Like his colleague John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham has established a reputation as a “maverick” politician, a gimlet-eyed straight shooter who isn’t afraid to cross swords with those in his own party when his conscience demands he do so. In this regard, he’s seen as a breath of fresh air in an increasingly divided political environment; partisan hacks like Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz will contort themselves in any manner of ways to defend clearly indefensible positions and justify their party’s actions, even if it means offering themselves up on the altar of public scorn. But Graham would never do that – he has too much respect for the office and for the sacred duty of his role as an elected official to represent all his constituents, not just the ones who voted for him to ever engage in such behavior. It is this perceived fortitude that has helped drive the narrative that Lindsey Graham is above the fray.
The only problem is, it’s not true.
Quite enough has been written about Donald Trump this election cycle. In fact, I would argue that too much time has been dedicated to his shambolic, unhinged and anti-political train wreck of a campaign. We’re all sick to death of hearing about Donald Trump, of reading the daily reminders that he doesn’t have the first goddamn clue how to run for President (much less actually be one, God forbid), and adding to the ever-growing ziggurat of evidence indicating that not only is he a bad politician, but a mediocre-at-best businessman and a lousy human being.
I know all this, just as I know another article isn’t going to change anyone’s mind or reveal new insight into the man who is unquestionably the worst Presidential candidate this country has ever seen. But at the same time, the fact that approximately 40% of American voters have proven themselves to be aware of (and unmoved by) his innumerable shortcomings as a politician/human being is, in my mind at least, a phenomenon that requires further exploration. So if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to take a little time to wade through this quagmire of an election cycle and the events that precipitated Donald Trump’s rise to power in the Republican Party. It might end up being a pointless endeavor, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least try to understand how we got to this point as a country.