It’s inauguration anniversary week—one year since Donald Trump took the Oath of Office. Many will pen commentaries on whatever good or ill our President has delivered. I fall square in the camp that believes Donald’s a bully who’s diminished our domestic lives, compromised our world standing, and made the world an even more dangerous place to live. One thing I’ve learned from him: the world is not simply divided into win-win relationships or win-lose transactions. Trump has introduced an even baser level of human interaction: I only win when everyone else loses. The man and I possess diametric worldviews.
Nonetheless, I’ll let others articulate his policy faults or triumphs. I’d rather focus on an aspect of this man’s rise to power too much overlooked: his entertainment value. In this regard, The Donald delivers.
Donald Trump rose to power in 2015 and 2016, coincident with me pedaling the pulse of our nation. It was a time of national complaint, despite scant to data support our malaise. True, many got left behind in the recovery from the 2008 recession, but the recession was over. The military industrial establishment had finally achieved ideal stasis: a continuous war that can never be won but which occupies so few citizens, we foot the bill without real objection. Our social systems—healthcare, public education, taxes, immigration, equality, and environmental policies—were all flawed, but trending in mostly good directions. Our problems were real, but of first world amplitude. Still we complained.
Democracy is a messy process, never complete. Responsible decision-making is too nuanced to bloom in the age of twitter. We yearned for a simple narrative.
Trump played the media and the populace like the astute barker he is, and we played right
along. Corporations appeared to have more influence over our day-to-day lives than government. As long as the stock market rolled in sync with Walmart’s replenished shelves, we figured we were doing all right, so why not choose an amusing front man for the political sideshow?
People may object to my rationale for Donald Trump’s election as flip and dismissive: I think it gets to the core of our problem. Americans have more say in our government than most people on this earth; we have enjoyed a high standard of living and freedom of expression for over two hundred years. We are quick to claim our rights, though less speedy to own the responsibilities those rights entail. Since anything taken for granted loses value, we grew complacent. Only an uninformed populace jaded to the political process could have elected a man like Donald Trump. That uninformed populace is us; elect a Very Steady Genius is what we did.
I’m surprised to hear people say, “He’s worse than I thought he would be.” Was no one listening through the anger, the double talk, the deceit? So far, Donald Trump acts exactly as I thought he would. One year in, what he does best is what he’s always done best: elevate hate and fear to a fever pitch that commands neither wisdom nor truth: only attention. That’s entertainment.