Some despise Reality TV. Survivor. Big Brother. The Biggest Loser. The Amazing Race. The (Celebrity) Apprentice. The repetitive complaint is, “But this is not real.” However, the number of seasons these shows are in suggests they still make networks money. Survivor – 30. Big Brother – 16. Biggest Loser – 16. The Amazing Race – 26. The Apprentice – 14. Lots of money. Welcome to Reality TV the Presidential Nomination Edition.
The Donald and His Apprentices
You may not like the analogy.
Donald Trump makes his living by being plain spoken. Take his role on The Celebrity Apprentice. He may truly like one of the celebrities on his show, but he has proven he can fire the best of them. If you have ever watched him point that index finger at a star and say, “You’re fired,” you have also heard him give a clear and concise explanation for his move. Some people like that.
In a world where we must always sift through politicospeak, speaking clearly feels like a breath of fresh air. Consider Bernie Sanders. These two people seem lifted in the polls by saying what they are thinking and thinking what they are saying.
How many on both the Left and Right have been trying for years to get a straight word out of Hillary?
One wonders when The Donald’s apprentices will pick up on this.
Campaigns run on the premise of saying what donors will support actually leaves the citizenry less energized and informed. Finance reform simply gave money more clout than before. What if when The Donald waved his Balance Sheet at his press conference announcing his candidacy he was suggesting he will not be corralled by the Establishment? You may wish someone else were as emboldened and had a better position on immigration, or any other major issue for that matter.
All the apprentices seem to be simply repeating the same lines of the past – on both side of the political spectrum. They are testing the waters to see what will grab the imagination and energy of an electorate tired of granting a lifetime income to someone who will really not do much different than his predecessor(s). This affect is seen at both ends of the political spectrum. Except for Bernie. At least he is honest about his particular ideology.
Is Damage Control Possible?
What seems to unsettle most is the forthrightness with which The Donald has verbalized what others have been thinking. Right or wrong, you will be the judge, but, he has certainly exercised his right to free speech. His apprentices are free to speak their respective party’s line it seems.
The Washington Post ran a piece on the Trump effect on the GOP, GOP leaders fear damage to party’s image as Donald Trump doubles down. Here is the opening paragraph,
The head of the Republican National Committee, responding to demands from increasingly worried party leaders, spent nearly an hour Wednesday on the phone with Donald Trump, urging the presidential candidate to tone down his inflammatory comments about immigration that have infuriated a key election constituency.
The response to Trump’s remarks have been swift and far-reaching. But, he seems undeterred,
Rather than backing down from his comments about illegal immigrants — whom he characterized as rapists and killers, among other things — Trump has amplified his remarks at every opportunity, including in a round of interviews Wednesday.
He insisted to NBC News that he has “nothing to apologize for” in his repeated remarks about Mexicans. But he also predicted that, if he secures the GOP nomination, “I’ll win the Latino vote.”
Who knows. No one really thinks Trump will get that far. But, the concern is what will the GOP look like carrying The Donald into debates before the watching world.
What may be more important is what Reed Galen noted,
“The fact that he is rising in the polls has something to do with tapping into an angst and anger, especially on immigration, that the other candidates have been unwilling or unable to harness,” said Reed Galen, a Republican operative based in California.
What Lies Beneath Always Emerges
Galen, in my opinion, gets at the root. What if we could own that Donald Trump is giving voice to what we continue to ignore?
Try as we might to put on airs that we really are an hospitable melting pot of a Country, the truth comes out at interesting times. In the aftermath of the killing of the Charleston 9 we find the fringes just as opposed to giving non-whites space as if The Constitution were never amended. And, then there are those not considered outliers hiding behind pseudo-history to ignore the symbolism behind the Confederate Flag.
What The Donald says about those from Mexico is little different than what white supremacists continue to say about African-American people in the aftermath of the shooting in Charleston. Not much different. The trope almost always begins, “If they just . . ..”
We have always been and will always be a people who scapegoat others. Where is The Donald or any of his apprentices on record as noting the way capitalism has always needed a cheap labor class. It does not matter if they were working on plantations or in the south or vegetable fields out West. Consider the horrible debates and rationale over resistance to raising the minimum wage. The unsettling truth we face is that the rest of us are that labor class that works to support Corporatists and Politicians for life, for their their standard of living.
What lies beneath is a seething anger rooted in fear. We are afraid our world will change. Even those of us who realize we are being played fear what life would look like if we actually operated from a position of mutual value. We experience large doses of anxiety when we really consider the other person as valuable as ourselves. What would we have to give up?
No, this is not about the symptomatic issues but what is at our core. We are a Country of immigrants. And we are always afraid.
Human responses to fear tell us more about we who fear than those feared.
What really bothers us about The Donald is that we see him in our mirrors. What we loathe about his characterization of all immigrants, even if he added a small caveat, is that it reflects our own fears of the other.
Try as we might to repress our fear of others no matter their ethnicity or their sexual self-identifications, fear is still fear and it needs to be asked of us, “What are you afraid of?”
Likely some may find this overly simplistic. But, re-read this line from the WaPo piece,
The fear [italics added] expressed by Bennett and others is that Trump will set back the party’s efforts to rehabilitate its image and broaden its reach. And it appears likely that he will be onstage in the presidential debates that begin next month — a dissonant figure in what GOP leaders had hoped to present as a substantive, experienced and appealing field of candidates.
And, there is a candidate in the mix that will rehabilitate the image of the GOP? One wonders what the collective GOP Establishment really fears.
Maybe they fear they have already been fired before reaching the Boardroom?
Really, No Capitulation!
The consequent nature of our political situation should be no reason for capitulation from one end of the spectrum to the other. Fear seems a tool in the hands of all as the only difference is who is pointing at whom.
What we need is an electorate that once and for all learns to transcend these binaries which prove to be no binary at all. If peddling in fear is the common means then maybe we should opt for a different politic.
My Christian friends who read here may be a bit unsettled. I hope so.
Our situated-ness provides an opportunity not an occasion for despair. Were we to put an end to the way we have opted for the fears of politics in our religious discourse maybe our way of life together would offer a better harbinger of things that could come.
This is no time for ignoring the ways in and into which we have become subject to the dominant way of talking about life together as life to be feared. The One through whom God became King inspired those following to summarize the means to arrest fear. Complete love.
Every time this means is suggested critics claim this is sentimentality. Complete love is difficult. Not so with sentimentality. One drives us for what would be best of the other. One simply objectifies a moment in time. And, many of us know those who long for the good old days of that old time religion or some era in Christian history where the perceived theological position holds the key for our day and time. Like it did then, correct?
For once, what would happen if Christians insisted on this politic among themselves as a means to offer hope for those who fear in this life? That might be worth our capitulation.
Otherwise, maybe it is we who need to be fired.
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Image Credit: You’re Fired
Image Credit: Damage Control
Image Credit: What Lies Beneath