I had the chance recently to meet and observe some American strangers in a strange land. With each new Canadian or American they met, the conversation returned to the presidential race and one candidate in particular.
Without exception, these Americans I encountered took pats on the shoulder, dropped their heads with some shame and said something like, “I know, I know, it’s terrible, isn’t it? It’s so embarrassing.”
In other words, yes, it was terribly boring.
'Shame and embarrassment' is all I ever hear, repeated over and over again by every newspaper, news site, news station, comedian, Twitter or Facebook feed.
They’re offering wall-to-wall coverage of Donald Trump’s every outrageous action, word or tweet to hammer home their message that he is racist, dangerous and stupid.
Well for a dumb guy, he clearly understands the media better than the media understands itself. They cover him so completely, most voters probably aren’t even aware of their alternatives.
And we wonder why Trump’s winning.
They 'balance' that coverage with more coverage, thinking up ever more clever ways to say he is racist and dangerous and stupid.
Well I’m sure that makes the newscasters and pundits feel better, but I really doubt it helps.
Does no one consider the audience anymore? I’ve been listening to the ‘left,’ if such a thing exists anymore, demonize every leader and candidate on the right for years and of course it was only true by minor degrees. And they wonder why no one recognizes the wolf they’ve been crying about when it actually appears.
Just don’t call them stupid for not recognizing it, either.
The other day I caught some CBC coverage that kind of typifies this divide. They were interviewing Random Woman From Florida about her continued support for the candidate.
“Because he hasn’t lied to us yet,” seemed to be her answer. “He’s not a politician.”
So the CBC interviewer lets loose all his research. Does it matter that he thinks Mexicans are rapists? he asked. Nah, she said. That’s a sound byte the media keeps replaying, but that’s just how he talks. I don’t think he really thinks that.
But what about his bankruptcies? You want to trust your nation’s finances to a guy who has gone bankrupt FOUR TIMES?
Well, she said, he’s run dozens of companies and if just four don’t work, I guess that’s not a bad record.
The CBC host continued through the list of things “some people might say” about the candidate (ie: the racism, misogyny, the ludicrous statements) and she shrugged off every one.
She doesn’t believe any of it. She's no dummy.
And that’s just the point.
Forget the candidate. It’s never about the candidate, it’s about the people who would vote for the candidate and why. These people are turning against politics, news, religion and nearly every other establishment in civic life.
They see clear through the lies told over and again by the game-makers and they see a saviour; someone they are familiar with, someone who is reviled by the same organizations they revile. He says the same things in public that people they trust would say in their kitchens. To them, he’s an action man who gets things done and will do something about their biggest fears no one else wants to talk about: Immigration, Islam and the economy.
And they’re willing to take the foibles of the man with his words and stated intention.
So go ahead, share that new demonizing story about him. Tell the world exactly how stupid you think he is. Tell the world how stupid you think his supporters are. It might make you feel better, but it’s not helping your cause.
I suggest a different approach, especially for those Americans who hang their heads in shame: Stand up straight and look around.
Your neighbours are saying something about their fears and mistrust and just like Donald Trump himself, the words don’t come out right.
But you’ll never understand if you keep assuming they’re stupid and you’ll never come together unless you offer a better alternative for those than Donald Trump.
— Marshall Jones is the managing editor of iNFOnews.ca