Just For Laughs
One of my relatives was complaining on Facebook about laugh tracks on sitcoms, and I suggested we need laugh tracks for the presidential election. Then I saw that 3QuarksDaily, which is looking for donations, had posted an article comparing our political theatre to the new comedy film, Central Intelligence, with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. In 3Quark’s estimation, the violent Calvin (Johnson) stands in for the Republicans while fraidy-cat Bob (Hart) represents the Democrats.
If the differences between Calvin and Bob are played for laughs in Central Intelligence, the corresponding differences between Democrats and Republicans in reality are similarly played for entertainment value. For example, Americans are wildly entertained by Democrats and Republicans arguing about gun control as if the two parties have meaningfully different principles. However, while Americans soak in vitriolic arguments via cable news and social media, the two parties have surreptitiously achieved their actual combined goal: to do nothing. After all, why would Democrats pursue legislation like an ill defined “assault weapons ban” that not only will never get through Congress, but even if it did, it wouldn’t make a dent in gun-related homicides? And why would Republicans, those freedom-loving patriots, push back on restricting gun sales to people on the terrorist watch list? If it doesn’t make sense it’s because, like Central Intelligence, it wasn’t designed to make sense–it was designed to entertain.
In fact, while Facebook homies post any number of articles about impending legal action over voter suppression, primary vote fraud, and the email server scandal – none of those garner any mention on mainstream media. Instead they take down Trump, or Bernie Bros, or Brexit.
In TomDispatch, John Feffer looks beyond the entertainment and offers an explanation of why Donald Trump seems like the way out for American people that still work with their hands, and get no consideration from either party:
Falling behind economically and feeling betrayed by politicians on both sides of the aisle, America B might have moved to the left if the United States had a strong socialist tradition. In the 2016 primary campaign, many of the economically anxious did, in fact, support Bernie Sanders, particularly the younger offspring of America A fearful of being deported to America B. Unlike Europe B, however, America B has always been more about rugged individualism than class solidarity. Its denizens would rather buy a lottery ticket and pray for a big payout than rely on a handout from Washington (Medicare and Social Security aside). Donald Trump, politically speaking, is their Powerball ticket.
Above all, the inhabitants of America B are angry. They’re disgusted with politics as usual in Washington and the hypocritical, sanctimonious political elite that goes with it. They’re incensed by how the wealthy have effectively seceded from American society with their gated estates and offshore accounts. And they’ve focused their resentment on those they see as having taken their jobs: immigrants, people of color, women. They’re so desperate for someone who “tells it like it is” that they’ll look the other way when it comes to Donald Trump’s inextricable links to the very elite who did so much to widen the gap between the two Americas in the first place.