Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
Shame on my fellow white people, but blame the news media that created Trump and distorted Hillary.
Shame on us, white people.
We just rejected the most presidential, qualified candidate in history to vote for a mentally ill buffoon who spews hate speech and has no impulse control.
We voted against someone who has studied every issue and developed a reasoned approach to each so we could vote for someone who has displayed total ignorance and confusion on the basics of what constitutes abortion, foreign trade, contemporary business practices, military strategy and tactics and a wide range of other important matters.
Surveys say Americans want to protect and strengthen Social Security, yet white people voted for the candidate whose platform wants to gut this successful program. Surveys say we believe in a woman’s right to have an abortion, yet whites voted for someone who says he wants to restrict those rights. Surveys say we are wary of Russian motives, yet we voted for a Putin apologist. Surveys show that a whopping 64% of all Americans worry about the effects of climate change, yet we whites voted for someone who denies that climate change is occurring.
In the 2016 election, whites have done what they—what we–have been doing since the election of Ronald Reagan—we voted against our own interests.
Because the majority of whites are racists? Because they secretly don’t think women capable of leading? Because we secretly want an autocrat, no matter how erratic?
I am ashamed of the color of my skin this morning, but I don’t place the primary blame on whites. I blame the mass media for manipulating the fears and prejudices of whites and putting profits above ethics.
It was the mass media that decided that a clownish failed real estate developer would play the role of a titan of business on TV. When Trump started doing “The Apprentice,” his real estate empire was in shambles. He was involved in thousands of lawsuits. The New York real estate industry considered him a buffoon. He had mismanaged his family’s fortunes so much that the Trumps were worth much less than if he had invested in mutual funds that track the S&P 500. But the media bought into Trump’s narcissistic self-delusions of business genius and by doing so validated them to the world. Most importantly, the media created the “celebrity culture” that glorifies selfish consumption and reduces all issues to personal opinions, not the analysis of reality and facts.
The news media also bought into and publicized the inaccurate image of Hillary Clinton that Republicans assiduously created. It took years of bullshit investigations and false rumors, years of characterizing her speeches as unexciting and her program as uninspiring, never with any examples, since the examples would all prove the opposite. The news media followed the GOP playbook. It also applied a double standard that blamed Hillary for mistakes her peers also made and set a higher standard for evaluating her words and actions.
Once Trump announced his run, it was the mass media who took him seriously, giving his campaign far more coverage than what they gave to other Republicans and the Democratic candidates. His insults and lies dominated the news pages.
Finally, until very late in the campaign, the news media refused to call Trump on his obvious lies. Illegal immigration from Mexico has been negative for several years now, meaning more undocumented migrants are crossing back into Mexico than are sneaking into the United States. Crime is down. Police deaths are down. Acts of terrorism are way down. African-Americans do not for the most part live in warzones. There is no such thing as an abortion in the eighth month. Putin did invade the Ukraine. The list of Trump’s big and little lies go on and on and on and on. But until Trump made the outrageous claim that Hillary Clinton started the “birther” rumors and he ended them, the mainstream media reported what he said, but never told us it was a pack of lies. I understand that NBC producers were sitting on tapes which proved Trump assaulted women and showed him using the “n” word, but they failed to release them.
One of the network executives said during the primary campaign that Trump might not be good for the country, but he was good for ratings, and therefore made the networks a ton of money.
No consolation, but that worm is going to turn very quickly. Economists and pundits are already talking and writing about a Trump recession. By itself, any one of several Trump proposals will throw the country and the world in to a deep economic crisis. Rounding up and kicking out 11 million people will do it. Taking health insurance away from 20 million people—the net effect of rescinding Obamacare—will do it. Entering into a trade war with China or Europe will do it. Lowering taxes on the wealthy will do it. Building a wall on our southern border for hundreds of billions of dollars will do it. Withdrawing from trade agreements will do it.
In other words, it’s likely that the media moguls who put profits first will see their investment portfolios take a big hit and then take years, if not decades to recover. The media itself will find itself under much greater scrutiny during the administration of an autocrat, if Trump makes good on his revenge threats and his threat to pass libel laws that infringe on press freedom.
So the news media will suffer for their sins. Poetic justice, except the rest of us will also suffer.
And maybe we deserve to suffer, at least white people. Although I blame the news media for manipulating us, upholding the wrong values and turning its back on the truth, we swallowed the nonsense. We swallowed it because it confirmed the deep-seated racism, sexism and jingoism that it appears most white still have. Because of voter suppression laws passed by Republican legislatures in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio and other swing states, there were not enough African-American and Hispanic voters to compensate for the failings of the white voter.
I would like personally to apologize to the African-American and Hispanic communities, who saw through the garbage and voted for Hillary. I would like to apologize to millennials, who will have to live a long time in the dystopic world Trump and the GOP want to create. It would be grandiose to apologize on behalf of all white people, so I do so for myself and my family.
This morning, I am as ashamed of my color and my nationality as I could ever be.
Copyright 2016 Marc Jampole