Donald Trump: The Only Good Thing About American Politics
To be honest, I’m not following a lot of election politics right now. Maybe it’s because I’m not patriotic. Maybe I’m what’s wrong with this country. Or maybe it’s because the election is over a year away!
But I have to say, whenever I skim over the political side of news sites, or even gander at what’s trending on Facebook and Twitter, a little smirk forms on the right corner of my mouth whenever the name Donald Trump appears, enticing me to click and read on more than anything else.
For those of you who aren’t following this at all, Donald Trump, the billionaire tycoon-turned Republican candidate for president, has become like a virus traveling through the body of American politics, gaining a somewhat respectable number of supporters despite saying some very outlandish things (watch this two-minute highlight of his announcement speech on YouTube). He’s a real estate mogul, a quirky character better fit for fictional satire than the world we live in who became popularized in American culture with his TV show The Apprentice (here’s 11-seconds of what he did on the show).
Politicians don’t like him, nor do news outlets, and few are willing to take him seriously. I can’t blame them, really. Among his anthems are the statements “I’m rich,” “I have a lot of money,” and “I don’t need donors for my campaign.” At the end of the day, he’s telling the political world, “To heck with you, I am going to do it on my own, and if the American people elect me, I’m going to keep doing it on my own.”
Republicans and Democrats are attacking him like white blood cells, but no matter how hard they try, he won’t go away. It’s like a teacher telling a class of fourth graders not to look out the window when there’s a unicorn on the playground. Donald Trump is something exciting in an otherwise boring and unproductive political world. Really, he’s the only exciting thing. Honestly, it makes me want to vote for him just so I can get this kind of excitement all the time.
Not A Lot Happens In American Politics
Okay, hold back on the pitchforks and mobbing, I’m not done yet. Like Donald Trump seems to be doing, I’m going to calm down my message a little bit and explain what I mean. The average American probably wants to know something about politics, and wants to believe that politics matters. But the obsessive way that politics is covered in America makes that impossible.
Because there’s too much information to digest, and little ever comes of it. We talk about controversies like Benghazi, or Hillary Clinton’s secret email server, or the racial divide in this country, but rarely does anything big actually happen as a result of the rhetoric. Instead, those who follow along receive a big letdown when they realize that all of that angry debate resulted, much of the time, in nothing changing.
To average people, that’s enough to deter them from really paying much attention. When the election comes around, they will care more because there’s an actual definable result, a change in leadership, but then things fade back to normal because these newly elected officials will continue bickering like the previous ones did.
This, in a way, compares well to baseball. I’m a big fan of baseball, including the length of the season, a sporting marathon really. My Atlanta Braves have been meandering just below the .500 mark, and are unlikely to make the playoffs as they continue to rebuild. Eventually, the season will end, and I can look forward to next year when the little things they developed this year, the young players they progressed, enter another season that much better. But this, I understand, is boring to many people and deters them from baseball.
Presidential elections proceed kind of the same way. So many things happen in the two years that precede them, and some of them really are noteworthy, but then there’s a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter. Consider how much attention Donald Trump is getting right now even though the election isn’t until the end of 2016! That’s two baseball seasons.
I even remember hearing political commentators saying at the end of the 2012 election that the 2016 election season was then already beginning. That’s a four-year baseball season! Do you really think us lay Americans will know what to care about or what’s important over the course of an election season even half that long? It’s exhausting unless you really want to follow everything–your Facebook news feed will attest to those among your friends who do this and even reading their consistent posts is tiring. It’s simply too much, and it appears completely beyond fixing. That’s just the nature of the American political culture.
Donald Trump Is Entertaining
Say what you want about Donald Trump, but he has the nation’s eye, not an easy task. He might be, to borrow from an article I read, dumb like a fox. Politics in this day and age is marketing and business. You want people to buy your brand, which is you, the politician. There are many different ways to go about this, and I won’t bore you with all the possibilities, but Trump seems to be using the ‘get your attention by being outlandish and then polish the message later’ approach.
He has been entertaining, so entertaining that even people like me are paying attention to what is going on. Normally, I would seldom glance at articles this early. I’d rather start following the fuss during next year’s caucuses as parties choose their candidates and then decide who to vote for much closer to the election, yet I’m watching now. I’ve been pulled into the middle of the baseball season, so to speak, and the only player exciting enough for me to pay attention to has a skyscraper named after him.
Even if he doesn’t get elected–and honestly this would probably be best for the nation. Even if he crashes and burns like the GoldenEye satellite on reentry. I am actually enjoying following election news over a year before the election, and the brand Donald Trump is the cause.
This is sad.
It is sad that American politics is so broken, so uncompromising, so inept that it takes Donald Trump to get me excited. That to me, he is the only good thing about American politics–and not for the most noble reasons–is a problem. I shouldn’t be looking toward politics as something to entertain me like sports. I should be looking toward American democracy as something to admire, a system that guides this country on a better course. But the fact is, its most important decisions are made by the Supreme Court. Its politicians bicker over soundbites and slinging mud all over each other. Parties fight and don’t work together in any meaningful way even though they are supposed to represent all Americans, not just those who elected them.
It’s sad. It’s reality. And unless NBC changes its mind about cancelling The Apprentice, I might end up having to get my Donald Trump fix on C-SPAN.