Love him or hate him, Donald Trump represents a sea change in the way Americans view politics, and the way politics will be played in the next decade. I think this is a good thing.
The power of the media among the people (the 90%) is an illusion, yet it is very real, even preeminent, inside the world of the 10% and the political class. Conservatives among the 10%, such as ourselves, as spectators, have been railing against this media power for years, for the media has cowed politicians into believing their power is actually authorized by the people, when it’s more of an aspect of Stockholm syndrome.
We didn’t know what to do, until along comes a man from Nowheresville in the private sector, who, first crack off the bat, when he meets Megyn Kelly, it’s hammer meets nail. The same for Fox News. Hammer meets nail. Then as if the hammer is airborne, it finds Glenn Beck, who mocks and name calls, then complains that Trump hasn’t the courage to appear on his show and have a face-to-face convo, man to man. And to prove how far ranging is this hammer, it reaches down into the pits of the faux conservative blogosphere to rattle the cages of what’s left of the bubble-gum brigade over at Red State, and their old boss, Erick Erickson.
A Way back, and a Way out
Win or lose, Donald Trump has provided the American people a way back, possibly even to the grand old days when John Cameron Swayze delivered the nightly news for NBC, when we turned the TV on and then went about the house just listening as if it were a radio. This “way back” has been because Trump has provided American politicians with a way out from under the mesmerizing grip that the media can make or break them.
This is the real game afoot. One president cannot make this happen.
The people, the 90%, long ago left the media. MSM network viewers have been falling for over 20 years, and cable has not made up the deficit. People have truly tuned out. But not before the media had gotten what it wanted, which was to create that illusion that they were the gatekeepers to power, that only through them could politicians and their policies succeed. Sort of like the 14th Century Church in France, they became the self-appointed middleman between the stinking serf class and the aristocrats who really didn’t want to dirty their hands with them. (A peculiarly leftist view of Man, I might add.)
For probably no more than a decade was the national media “must see” TV, 1960-1970, give or take. Some say it began when Edward R Murrow of CBS took out Joe McCarthy (c1954), whose Red-hunting was seen as excessive by the New York media establishment. Conservative scholars still debate the level of McCarthy’s guilt in this, which likely most of you still don’t know about, but “McCarthyism” ingrained in the American psyche as representing something evil, even as it’s used regularly and painlessly, by Democrats and the Left, reaffirming what the media has tried to condition us into believing, that names are worse than substance.
Others say it was when the media was successful in creating the illusion of a Camelot in 1960, hiding the ugly and dangerous womanizing of JFK, paving the way to winning a stolen election. Limbaugh believes it was after JFK was shot and the American left was able to transform Oswald into a right-wing nut instead of a Communist assassin. Or maybe the Great Society, LBJ’s successful attempt to create a perpetual voting block of black Americans (his words, not mine), by destroying the black family then paying really nice reparations called a welfare state – compensation for their loss. All they needed was for Dr Martin Luther King’s voice to be stilled, which occurred in 1968. This, not slavery, is the National Sin.
Still others said it was the Vietnam War, where the American media was invited to tag along into the forward edges of the battle area, changing American’s viewing habits.
In every case, this became must-see TV, and citizens had a duty to tune in. And for awhile more than normal did. Also, with each of these events, there was a subtle tilt in the political playing field, ever leftward, which has favored the Democrat Party more with each passing president, including the Bush years.
The popular assumption ever since has been that the Media are talking authoritatively to the nation, when in fact scarcely 30% pay any attention. Wherever you go, the dentist, the drugstore, the gym, the grocery store, people you see and talk to daily, look around and ask yourself how many of these people follow current events. Or care. The difference between the 10% and the 90% is stark. Still, the illusion has persisted…until now.
As noted in an earlier piece, Donald Trump comes from that 90%. Only he decided to run for president, and suddenly he is unqualified for the job because he did not spend his waking hours following the WMD saga in Iraq instead of a real job. I’m in my seventies, and spend no more than 2-3 hours a days briefing myself on evolving events, but like Donald Trump has done all his professional career, still don’t get down into the weeds on a subject until there is an absolute need-to-know. That’s what he’s doing now.
What Trump has exposed is the ugly nature of that 10% world, and the power it wields, all because the government establishment recognizes the media, and its satellites, to be the gatekeepers between them and the people. And with the help of this hammer – Trump – is showing how it can be undone.
Trump’s first encounter was Megyn Kelley at the first debate, who took what she thought would be a popular method of attack against Trump. Hammer meets nail. Only not just Megyn, but Fox News felt that hammer, which by now has become the size of Thor’s.
Fox is reeling and writhing in its own existential crisis, for it is becoming clear that the people, the 90%, who they thought they owned on reputation alone, inasmuch as the leftwing network media had lost all but the most dedicated Democrats years ago years ago. Today, Trump has them balancing the approval of the increasingly smaller “respectable” establishment in one hand and the approval of the 90% in the other, for clearly the anti-establishment candidates (meekly called “outsiders” by the MSM) own 65% of that market. What to do? What to do?
So far they don’t know.
But if this hammer-thing catches fire, and spreads, it will represent an existential shift for all the gatekeepers, even the little satellites out on the internet, many on the right like RedState, never knowing they’d been trapped by a leftwing paradigm, causing them to swap the true purposes of conservatism in exchange for the Left’s favorite bait for the Right, lucre.
William Buckley’s “National Review” was not an opinion journal that chided citizens into voting a particular way, but rather a journal of argument and persuasion, hoping to persuade political leaders, including elected officials, into practicing government in a particular way. Once upon a time one did not go to conservative media to be preached to or mocked but to be edified. Been edified lately? Well, there are still a few, and we are fortunate to have Lady Penguin who reminds us regularly.
The people do not want or need gatekeepers, but for these new satellites orbiting around the media, they assigned themselves that role, and they are the ones most outraged because Donald Trump has threatened their status, and their rice bowls. Call them collateral damage.
Take Erick Erickson, former editor-in-chief at Red State, who managed to take a small insignificant political blog and turn it into a giant of conservative opinion, becoming a household name among conservatives… then allow his minions to sink it into little more than a candy store hangout with a jukebox for teenyboppers, changing their format from Classic Rock to Acrid Rock, showing the door to anyone still wanting to hear “American Pie”…all the while EE was running off to build a personal media career.
I believe Erickson is a paid enemy of Donald Trump and supporter of Marco Rubio, but I can’t know his heart, or even if he can answer this question himself. But I think his new employers, Salem Publications have made anti-Trump, and possibly pro-Rubio, a term of employment up and down the line. Again, I don’t know. But EE has said that if Trump gets the nomination he can’t vote for him, even if the felonious Wicked Witch of the East, Margaret Hamilton, is the Democrat nominee and could win if millions of Americans follow Erickson’s (and Glenn Beck’s) lead.
This is a vanity Glenn Beck possesses, that he can lead millions over a cliff, like lemmings. I doubt he can, but also doubt that Erick Erickson is smitten by Beck’s level of gross vanity. Instead, I think he belongs to a mutual admiration society, a fraternity of similarly-aged people who talk almost exclusively among themselves. If they all went over the cliff together, they still would not qualify for Stalin’s definition of a “statistic” so Trump would count no great loss. He could make up that loss by stealing Democrat voters in Milwaukee alone.
Where I do take issue is that Erickson justified his fatwah against Trump on an earlier statement on Planned Parenthood, which Trump has now recanted. I can’t known Trump’s heart, but as a member of the 90% Trump’s beliefs were probably not as firm as Erickson’s about things spiritual or political at the time, and as a rule I pay no attention to anything a man learns for the first time while attending cocktail parties as a non-politician.
But about abortion I know most people can have their epiphany, if at all, at any stage of life. I was agnostic about abortion even after my first son was born, until we lost another due to a miscarriage in 1975. So a life, not a clearer understanding of God, nor sin, or how either fit into any political scheme, can turn any passive view point upside down. Thus, I know such turnarounds happen all the time, and as explained in my earlier Trump article, I know they don’t occur until one is forced to pause and reflect in a serious way. He does that well, I think.
So, in the words of Oliver Cromwell, “I beseech you, Sir, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible ye might be mistaken?”
This is not to say that Erickson is wrong, only that he may not be right. But by claiming certitude, he is claiming an authority that is simply above his pay grade, and as a seminary student, should know better. But anything Erick Erickson writes should carry the full disclosure statement that he is likely paid to have these opinions. It’s not that he isn’t sincere, but that hired guns aren’t entitled to the same level of credibility, as say, people such as me, who do it for free. That’s just the price one must pay for becoming a hireling in the media orbit…great pay, but lousy friends.
A media-free Republic, if you can keep it
Benjamin Franklin once said “a Republic… if you can keep it.” Donald Trump has already bequeathed back to us a world we’d like to have, but only if we can keep it. Don’t look for John Cameron Swayze reading the news anytime soon, but do look for some serious shakeups in coming years in all the networks, including cable, and don’t be surprised to find a lot of internet blogs disappear altogether. And if there is a just God in heaven, a few of their writers will be bagging groceries at Publix…or worse, doing court-appointed defense work down at the county lock-up.
If indeed Donald Trump is sincere, he could bequeath to us not just a Ted Cruz, but a generation of Ted Cruzes. Personallly, I get a knot in my belly when I consider voting for Trump but then I consider that what he is doing now is tearing down some barriers that must be torn down for the American renaissance to proceed. So, I’m willing to roll the dice. So are an awful lot of the 90%. I have a hunch.
So, I repeat, love him or hate him, win or lose, Donald Trump is bequeathing the Republic a second chance, by stripping away the puffery and vanities that now stand at the gate ensuring we can not have a Ted Cruz, not now, not ever, unless that Ted Cruz passes their entrance exam.