Boy oh boy, the circus really rolled into town in January 2017. The press is just wearing itself out chasing after all the flim-flammery. The cast of clowns, Sean Spicer, the Mooch, Kelly Ann Conway. And all those irresistible tweets, just guaranteeing multiple minutes of the news cycle every day. And then central casting came up with a great line-up of a sort of villainous side show, you can almost imagine the midway barker trying to lure you in, come see the hyper-moralistic vice president Pence; the secretary of education Devos, who knows nothing of public schools; the anti-science Sec. of Interior Zinke; the Sec. of Energy who wanted to eliminate Dept. of Energy Perry and good old boy Sessions as Attorney General.
And then there are legalistic high-wire acts, attorneys like Michael Cohen who operate outside of the law. Will he fall? Is there a safety net? Or the other attorney Rudy Gulliani; certainly that’s got to be an act. There’s the former head of the election campaign committee, Paul Manafort, whose life is a veritable clown car of shady dealings, an international track record of sleaze. How do the media and the citizens keep up with it? There are just so many entertaining acts to draw their attention to. They simply stay there and go with the easy stories that are presented to them in the three-ring circus that is the Trump administration. There is such a good view there under the Big Top, why there’s hardly a need to go anywhere else.
Well, there is a lot of “anywhere else” to be covering. Things that affect more people, things with important and compelling story lines and history, which are what news media used to spend more time on and citizens cared more about. Things in this country, like how is it that Flint still doesn’t have clean water, that we have a pharmaceutical industry-created opioid crisis ravaging the country, that Puerto Rico was left without electric power for so long with so little help.
Outside the country, seemingly endless wars are being fought that were either started by the US or are spin-offs from the destabilization caused by the US-started wars, and are being facilitated by US allies, using US-supplied weapons. Yemen is a prime example of this, see: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/american-made-bombs-in-yemen-are-killing-civilians-destroying-infrastructure-and-fueling-anger-at-the-u-s.
We have had a diminution of diplomacy in favor of more war, more posturing, crippling sanctions which only hurt the citizens and give authoritarian leaders even more of a strange hold on power. Not only is there no diplomacy, here in this country there is no longer a peace movement. We have reached the level talked about in Huxley’s Brave New World, where there is always some war going on somewhere; it is as normal as the weather and no one cares.
This is serious stuff going on. Hard-fought-for rights and well-researched regulations are being cast aside. We have as President a man/boy of limited intellect emulating what his authoritarian role models are doing; that is trying to undermine a free media, creating internal divisions among the citizens, and vilifying people who disagree or criticize as the enemy. As of now he is operating unchallenged to any degree, benefiting from a Republican majority in power through their gaming the system over the past decade but then being too cowed by this long-time con man to resist. We have a fractured Democratic party which would rather compromise than lead, and a mass media who have become the ringmasters of the circus.
We get out of this by organizing, resisting, and seeking others to engage with. And right now for many, it is getting out the vote, supporting candidates, and hoping, as we have been seeing, a big Blue Wave comes in November. Among people reading this are people to either side of this position, those young (or not) who have never engaged in politics, and those who feel that the system is corrupt and can’t see institutional change happening. If you are a citizen, you need to be engaged somehow or you are dead weight on us all. If you are in the former category, keep reading, questioning and find a way to plug in with other people or organizations. In the latter category, just plug into something that is directly helping others. We elected a clown. We got a circus. But that show should not just go on. Resist. D