Now that Donald Trump has secured enough delegates to get the Republican nomination this summer, we can all officially begin to panic.
The rise of Trump has proven to be extraordinarily frustrating while also being confounding to many. But let's face it: this is not a coincidence. Trump is the bi-product of a number of things that have been boiling up in the American culture for decades now. If you're surprised, you haven't been paying attention.
The rise of right wing talk radio (RWTR) has produced an ill-informed populace that would rather believe crazed talk show hosts and their demagoguery than believe actual fact. The Wall Street Journal published a piece back in 2015 showing how RWTR essentially dictated the GOP Primary results. Their messages of "anti-establishment" and constant Obama bashing not only make for great ratings, but have shown where a majority of GOP voters are getting their marching orders.
A significant number of people listen to RWTR religiously and don't treat it as a source of entertainment, but a legitimate source of news and information. These "sources" constantly remind them to not read or believe what the newspapers say; and to not watch or pay attention to any other "mainstream media" TV or radio outlets because they're all liberally biased.
This message of supposed bias extends into our public school system and its teachers, as well as higher education. A recent piece reported on the Bill Moyers website, shows how the message of RWTR has begun to affect what gets funded and what doesn't at Colleges and Universities - especially at the state level. As far as most of these RWTR hosts are concerned - everyone is biased except them.
This message has a majority of people doubting science; embracing intolerance, and believing an underlying message that America is "under siege" from outside forces - be they political, cultural, or religious. Some high ranking GOP members have seen enough of the ignorance, intolerance, and lack of common sense and have jumped ship to the Democratic party.
This mindset brought us the first version of Trump: Sarah Palin. Ms. Palin further spread the gospel of not believing the "lame stream media" as well as not reading newspapers or...anything really, and made it a piece of our national narrative. She set the table for the rise of Trump by condemning truth, knowledge, and overall critical thought.
54% of Donald Trump supporters believe President Obama is a Muslim. What's even more frightening is 29% of Americans believe he is a Muslim. This is startling when you consider a.) he isn't and b.) he's proven it time and time again. But remember, we now live an in an age where ignorance is bliss and stupidity is the national mindset.
Even more frustrating is how the media has been treating Donald Trump. They treat him more like a reality show contestant, and less like the man who - if elected - will make policy decisions that will affect them, their children, their neighbor's children, the rest of the world and all of us. Instead of asking questions of substance, they insist on laughing along with his ignorance and carnival barker showmanship - thus playing further into his Barnumesque narrative and used car salesman winks and nods.
Donald Trump is not "cute". He's a cartoon character who recently responded to a question of who he's speaking with regarding foreign affairs by saying: "I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain, and I’ve said a lot of things.”
What potential US President speaks like that? Seriously? To make this all worse, Trump announced yesterday that after his Presidency, he'd like to have a statue of himself in Washington DC that he'd share with Thomas Jefferson. Ahh yes, two great American thinkers sharing a single pedestal to remind of us of how far we've come.
Thomas Jefferson: a great thinker, innovator, and writer. Was he flawed? Yes, but not in the context of Donald J. Trump. Jefferson was a man of letters who built and lived on his estate Monticello. He was a voracious reader capable of critical thought, and progressive ideas regarding our democracy. He was an ardent Epicurean who constantly questioned the role of religious faith in government.
If given the chance, I would ask Trump if he's an Epicurean. I know he doesn't even know what that means - and why should he? He is, apparently, what we Americans want: a misinformed, narcissistic, nut job who is under the very false impression that running the greatest country in the world is just an extension of The Apprentice.