Media Diet and Politics
I think it’s good to protest the President Elects’ actions and appointments. Many things he has said over the campaign are deeply divisive and should not represent our country. He should know that. If he appoints people who are unacceptable, then he should hear that, too. It may not have an impact, but he should not be allowed to pretend that his echo chamber is the only (or even popular) perspective. There is a danger that he will listen to the media that reflects his biases, appoint advisors who reinforce those biases, and see popular inaction as confirmation that those biases are truth.
That being said, I am not out protesting today, not running for election, nor am I actively supporting a candidate. I need to go to work and turn off the TV. I need to unsubscribe from politics on reddit. I need to unsubscribe from political writers on medium. I need a media diet.
I’m reminded of the 2009 protests of the affordable care act. Laura Ingraham gave a speech in protest. She invoked the famous Holocaust poem “First They Came” (skip to about 2:40).
Jon Stewart sneered with sarcasm: “You are paraphrasing the famous homily about the Holocaust to complain about the government possibly raising the marginal tax rate back to where it was in the Clinton years. You don’t have to say ‘with great respect.’ It’s implied. I mean it’s so obviously equal… Let me today make this pledge to you: If the government begins to round up and kill the rich and the landowning and those who choose to exercise the right to bear arms, I’ll speak up.”
I am not saying that Trump is OK. I’m not saying that he is basically the same as Obama. I am not saying that the complaints against him and the ones against Obama are remotely equal. Trump is objectively worse in every way. But outrage without action serves exactly no one. The liberal media bubble will be as happy to waste our time under Trump as the conservative media bubble was under Obama.
Consuming news without taking action is pointless. Remember all the predictions about how bad things would get under Obama? Gas was supposed to be over $6. It is basically unchanged since 2009. The unemployment rate was supposed to climb back up to 8 percent. It has not. It’s about level at 5%. The stock market was going to crash. The stock market has made significant gains even above pre-recession highs. The destruction of our economy was supposed to be IMMINENT. But, no, paychecks are still going out; there is still stuff on the shelves to buy. Obama was going to take all our guns! But in reality it has been a record setting few years for gun sales. If you want more examples of this stuff, read about the ‘Letter from 2012’ written in 2008.
Here’s the thing: even if those predictions had come true, what should an individual have done about it? What action could a person take? How useful was it to engage with those predictions? I’m not going to make the same mistakes. I will not engage with predictions of doom and destruction. I will donate. I will try to serve a good purpose in my work. I will engage with the media (and social media) only to the extent that it facilitates action.