There was an interesting comment by one of the pundits yesterday, following the testimony of four police officers who defended the Capitol against treasonous thugs on January 6th. He noted, that during the Revolutionary War, about a-third of the colonists wanted to remain with the Crown. That is to say, they wanted to be British rather than American. As you know, the Americans, with some very heavy assistance from Lafayette and the French, won.
Then, not all that many years later, about a third of the nation formed the Confederacy and attempted to break away from the United States, in the name of preserving slavery. And that, brings us up to our contemporary mess, with, once again, about a-third of the country following Donald Trump and his call, driven by malignant narcissism, to seize the Capitol and “stop the steal.”
Why is it that about one-third of the country keeps getting it wrong? It’s safe to say, I suppose, that this time, as with the Civil War, the bitter bile of racism is again the cause. Bitter enough to have led to a Trump-inspired attempted coup d’etat.
All one needed to do, was to glance out at the audience at any of the Trump rallies or at the faces of the goons storming the Capitol to see that they were nearly all white. And all male. So, here we go again, but this time we have the additional problem of the 7-24 news cycle, taking something that used to be reported only once in the morning papers, then a second time on the 6 o’clock news and a third time on the 11 o’clock news and running it over and over again in an endless loop, until it feels as though all hell is about to crash down on our hapless heads. That, coupled with the unfiltered nature of social media, has taken us to a new and potentially dangerous place, a new low in our informational cycle, one that has disinformation and misinformation controlling our lives with some of it even being pushed at us from enemies on foreign soil.
Some of these “media people” will say almost anything if it means ginning up their ratings, the country be damned. And since Reagan and his free-traders killed the Fairness Doctrine and most other controls over the broadcast media, we are now like babes to the slaughter, mindlessly staring at whatever garbage someone feels like pushing through the flatscreen or smartphone at us. Media influence is overwhelming. In 2018, Nielsen reported that Americans spend eleven hours a day “connected to the media.” In 2021 PEW reported that three in ten adults are almost “constantly online,” with non of it having been checked and double-checked by Walter Cronkite and the CBS Evening News.
It could be argued that social media is addicting, and as such, should be treated as a public health issue.
Unlike those pre-social media days, when professional journalists filtered out all the nonsense, and would have called Trump out for being the dangerous buffoon that he is (read Mary Trump’s book), we now have millions who are being informed by entertainment outlets worried primarily about profits and social media outlets worried about not knowing what they should be worried about because what they are doing has never been done before, leaving them mostly interested in profits alone. Plus, they’re sometimes run by a bunch of geeky kids with no interest in history other than the plot line for The Lord Of The Rings.
This time, not even Bilbo Baggins will be able to save us as we head into the midterm election with about a-third of the country continuing to believe the last election was stolen, a giant cancerous boil that continues to be carried forward on the collective rump of about a-third of the country who feel a need to follow the madness of the unfiltered, unjournalistic and some might say treasonous extreme right-wing media.
We can only pray that the other two-thirds feel motivated to go to the polls in 22.