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The Game’s Gone Wrong

When Mexico (meaning the Mexican Government) sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you (pointing to the audience). They’re not sending you (pointing again). They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs.  They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people! But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.   

Statement by Donald J. Trump, Quoted in Business Insider, July 6, 2015 http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trumps-epic-statement-on-mexico-2015-7

I object to a whole series of things that he’s [Trump] said–vehemently object to them…I think all of that needs to stop. Both the shots at people he defeated in the primary and these attacks on various ethnic groups in the country….I think he’d have a much better chance of winning if he would quit making so many unfortunate public utterances and stick to the script.                                   

Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, Quoted by Reena Flores for CBS News,  June 10, 2016

 And, isn’t it all about winning now that politics in America has become a game?  Politics  has become just another American sport – who has won the money race, who has the best ground game, who made a recent gaffe that could cost two percent in the polls.  We can understand that it might be all about winning the game for Senator McConnell.  He likes being a senator and he is now living his dream – being Senate Majority Leader.

However, why is it all about who is winning and losing the game for the media – the people who are supposed to help enlighten us (don’t laugh – okay, laugh).  On Morning Joe last week, a group of MSNBC “political experts,” and people who call themselves journalists, were all saying for Trump to win he had to “change the script.”  It fell to Donny Deutsch, an advertising executive and TV personality, to ask if it was really enough for Trump to “change the script.”  Deutsch was at what some of my young friends might call one of those “really?” moments as he asked if we truly want to have a person who is engaging in racist rants and seems to know nothing about public policy to become president because he learned to read from a teleprompter and stay on script.

Perhaps we can take some comfort that we are not alone.  Yesterday, the British people woke up to the realization that some craven politicians after power, along with a corporate media took them for a ride.  The charlatans passing for politicians and the money obsessed media moguls told them British problems could be solved if they just got rid of the regulatory menace that is the EU and “the other,” those people over there who don’t look like Brits, don’t talk like Brits and don’t understand the British way of life.  So, as the neo-liberal political elite nurtured and sustained an unfair economic system, complicit corporate media leaders and their employee reporters have simply lied to their public about the root causes of their pain.  They talked about control by outsiders, about a return to some mythical golden age when Britain was a glorious place to live when people had jobs that paid a decent wage and provided for a comfortable way of life.  It is easy to blame an amorphous agency in some other country or people who are not part of your tribe.  Facing our own complacency and our government’s complicity in our misery is a lot tougher.

These newspaper reporters and TV talking heads did not talk about how our economic inequality came about and why it continues to get worse with each passing year.  That would entail honest effort and risk.  Being a real journalist is hard work.  It means digging deep into the reality of people’s lives and trying to understand and explain the complex reasons why things are happening.  It means taking on the powerful who can make your life difficult, can cost you your job and cause real financial harm to your news outlet.

Unfortunately, this US election is not about Trump nor is Brexit about Farage and Johnson.  Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson are the outcomes of a deeper problem.   2.8 billion people around the world live on less than $2 a day.  65 million people are displaced, living in camps because of war and natural disasters.  In $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer tell us that almost 1.5 million Americans are without almost any cash.  Food stamps are important but they don’t pay for the bus to get you to work. Try just thinking about living without cash or a credit or debit card in our society, even for one day, let alone all the time.  The global economy has made a few very rich and left billions behind.  People living in so-called strong economies have not been spared.  In the 2013-2014 US school year 1.4 million school children were homeless for at least part of the year.  These are hard truths we don’t hear most of the pundits and politicians talk about.

This economic and social misery is not happening because of “those people,” who are coming into our country.  “They” pay taxes, work hard to make a better life for their kids and contribute to our communities.  Those people help pay for our roads and schools.  They make up a large portion of our younger workers who ensure that Social Security and Medicare won’t go broke.  This economic pain exists because of policy decisions made by the very people who have been stoking the anger for decades that brought us Donald Trump.  He is their creation.  For decades Republicans have stoked racial hatred, but they have done it politely.  Trump dropped the pretense.  At the same time, Democrats put forward neo-liberal economic policies saying we could only incrementally make things better.  Things didn’t get better, not even incrementally, not for those children living on the streets, not for the people who saw good jobs disappear and went to work at Walmart for poverty wages.   And, now the press is being exposed for what it is too – a bunch of groupies covering a game to bring in the money with as little effort and risk as possible.  “Why,” they ask, “can’t he just stick to the script?”

The British just discovered they are living The Truman Show, they are pawns in a game, playing out their lives for the amusement and benefit of a few powerful people.  The bad news – so are we, and this election has brought our predicament into great relief.

But what we may fail to notice is that, with all its blather about what states are in play or whose field operation is better or which internecine battles presently engage the candidates’ staff, this kind of coverage is not only a way to juice the political narrative, it’s also a way to avoid touching that third rail.  So long as we are talking about strategy or who is winning, we don’t have to talk about policy (borrrrrrring!!!) or about values. 

 Bill Moyers,  As quoted in Salon.com*

 Louise Milone

 *Well worth taking a few minutes to read the whole piece at this link.  Moyers has once again given us a gift: http://www.salon.com/2016/06/23/the_gops_medieval_politics_americas_crisis_is_much_bigger_than_donald_trump/

 

 

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