No News Is Good News, Mr Trump

Why we should just turn off the news, close down our social media accounts and stop talking for the next four years.

There’s been much talk about the 45th President of the USA, in the run-up to the election and his recent inauguration. I don’t know about Americans but I can tell you that the rest of the world is exhausted from the two year bitch fight we witness every four years. I wish that we were spared all this political song and dance — that it was like a baseball final, where “World Series” only actually meant a domestic competition. But of course a US president’s influence spreads far further than the shores of Manhattan and California; from central and south America to the Middle East, to NATO and the West’s relations with Russia, China and North Korea. This last world title bout seems to have been particularly grueling but now is the time when we should all be sighing with relief that the circus won’t be in town again for another couple of years. Instead, however we see that the lions are still roaring in their cages and the clowns still applying their facepaint.

Despite all these worldwide demonstrations, the political commentary and the satire, there’s a reason why we should all give up the ghost and bury our heads in the sand.

There are three threads which I have come across recently which perfectly reflect the Trump dilemma.

  1. A Facebook reposting of a speech made by Paddy Chayefsky in 1978 at the Academy Awards where he criticised Vanessa Redgrave for using her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress to forward her own political agenda. This of course echoed Meryl Streep’s recent acceptance speech at the Golden Globes where she criticised Donald Trump. It was the comments left on this post by Trump supporters that were particularly vitriolic, which amazed me. They went along the lines that she was only an actress and how dare she have the audacity to use that platform for her own agenda. The Facebook contributors obviously did not see the irony that they were using the platform available to them (that of Facebook), hidden in some instances, behind the anonymity of assumed profiles to propagate their own thoughts and that, some of them, given a microphone on a world stage, would eat their own Chinese-made “Make America Great Again” hat for the chance to reinforce the Trump message.
  2. There is a story on Medium.com, some of you may have come across it, called Fuck You Donald Trump which is an eloquent but expletive laden posting about the frustration felt by many Americans and the rest of the world about the threat of Trumpism. Conversely, it has many comments which support the author’s view and share the fears. There were not too many dissenting voices added to this article, praising Trump. (I will leave you to draw your own conclusions as to why Trump supporters do not frequent Medium).
  3. The final encounter was a BBC link which I posted on Facebook about an Oxfam report which suggests that the 8 richest people in the world hold as much wealth as half the world, some 3½ billion people — Yes 3,500,000,000 people. (I should add that Trump is nowhere near the top eight and we currently have no idea about his wealth as his spokesperson has announced that he will not now publish his tax returns). However, I was staggered about the way we have permitted a world order where this could happen and invited people to share the story if they too thought it was scandalous. Let me clarify that my point was not to criticise these particular individuals per se, many of whom I know donate huge sums to charity, or to criticise people in general to want to better their prospects and increase their own wealth, but to question the morality of so much wealth in so few hands. After all, if we have this global device called the internet then surely we can start a global discussion about what sort of world we want to live in, right? Unfortunately, not one person shared the story. Instead, I received a diatribe about how much the CEOs of Oxfam and World Vision earn and others shrugging their online shoulders about how they were powerless to change things.

My conclusion is this. After a relatively stable few years, the world is once again entering a very worrying new era. But the man or woman in the street is powerless to stop it. Trump has been democratically elected and has already poured scorn on his dissenters.

Cast your mind back to the Dubya years. Computer ownership has soared since George W Bush left office in 2001. In those sixteen years, we have all developed an opinion. Not necessarily an informed opinion, but an opinion still the same. We’ve all become bolder about what we say online and how we express ourselves. When people used to call George W Bush an idiot, nobody really rushed to his defence. Folks were safe in the knowledge that he had a group of informed advisors around him and that if he strayed too far, he could be reigned in by the party machine that put him where he was. Donald Trump does not have that. He is his own man and has his own devout following, similar to the one Hitler enjoyed in 1930’s Germany. Now I am not suggesting for one minute that Trump’s policies are in anyway akin to Hitler’s but that merely he can do no wrong. It is pointless trying to criticise him as, like Michael Jackson or OJ Simpson, his supporters will blindly see what they want to see and ignore what they don’t. Faecesbook doesn’t give a Fck whether or not Trump pays tax. People on there are content to use their platform to the world, posting selfies or bragging about the achievements of their children. Twatter is an engine used by Trump to mobilise his troops.

And although on platforms such as Medium.com or Saturday Night Live, it is noble to expose any nepotism, any double standards, any shirking of responsibilities, any untruths that might occur , it will not make an iota of difference to him or his followers and will only lead to a gradual dismantling of press freedom in the United States and the escalation of Alternate Facts.

This presidency needs to be played out and only then will the American people be able to sit in judgment. Until then, we are just blowing hot air.

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