There are just 153 days left until the Republican National Convention and just 226 days left until Americans vote for their next President. Unless Ted Cruz rises phoenix-like (some might prefer a Jesus analogy given that it’s Easter but I just….can’t.) it appears that Donald Trump will be the GOP’s pick for the White House.
That is a sobering thought. A scary thought. And a dangerous possibility in this strange, uncertain world. We have peak TV and peak oil and therein lies the problem. Falling oil prices have shifted political sands with seismic precision. Peak TV means increasing competition for eyeballs and advertising. A convergence of the two and we have Donald Trump, a political juggernaut. I blame the media.
Let’s face it-at first he was good for a joke. His hair. The Apprentice. “You’re fired.” Failed casinos. Iffy universities and business credentials. An assessment of monetary worth as easy to pin down as mercury. It was a joke. A laugh. A less-bloody Frank Underwood with a more consistent accent.
The media not only played along, we loved it. Pandered to it. Rarely bothered to check Trump’s ‘facts’ because a) we were used to truthiness on the part of politicians and any public figure and b) he’s a circus. Nobody was taking him seriously.
We are now, or we should be. But it may be too late to make Trump actually answer questions about business bona fides and gossamer thin policies. He has tapped into the Howard Beale “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more” mindset. His supporters don’t care that Trump is mercurial and intemperate. That makes him more real (in a reality show kind of way.)
He is the perfect selfie obsessed, tweet my policy, he who speaks loudest wins candidate. There’s an old saying about democratic nations getting the leaders they deserve. It feels apt these days.
Much of the blame falls on the media, worried about falling revenues and readership and competing with clickbait buzzfeed quizzes about which boy band would you be a member of. The rank and file of the traditional media has been decimated. The older, less likely to be hoodwinked members are being pensioned off. We have citizen journalists and Facebook polls taking the place of think pieces and good honest, work the phones, hit the pavement, check your source material (and no, Wikipedia does not count) journalism. We have fewer people practicing journalism. Instead we have branding. While many are now saying mea culpa and admitting they should have done something sooner, that doesn’t help much.
I know this makes me sound old and bitter and hey, I can live with that. Can you live with a President Trump? It may not happen in November but unless the fourth estate gets its act together that will be the caliber of future leadership candidates around the world.