We’ve just crossed into California, marking the end of our tour across the southern states. We had a great time, seeing many wonderful sights, visiting friends and meeting lots of interesting people. But now that we’re back in the more familiar confines of a West Coast state, we thought it appropriate to briefly comment on what we’ve discovered about America at this unique juncture in US history.
We crossed the border in early October into Maine, a month before the Presidential election. We weaved through several northeastern states and were surprised to see significantly more TRUMP / PENCE signs along the way. When we finally arrived in the south, even though it was known Republican country, we were increasingly bemused that southerners wholeheartedly supported Trump, a New York businessman. People we talked to all said the same things: ‘I don’t trust (or like) Hillary’ and ‘We need change’ and ‘Obamacare is killing us’ and ‘Trump will drain the swamp.’ None of those comments made a lot of sense to us – in terms of justifying a vote for an obviously dreadful candidate – but we listened, occasionally defending the Canadian health care system when someone asked about it or erroneously characterizing it as ‘socialized medicine.’ [Note: we feel ourselves reasonably fit to comment on healthcare since we’ve lived in the US and different provinces in Canada.]
Then came Election Day and like many millions, we watched in disbelief as Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States [note: Mama Bear called it correctly months earlier]. And now, barely 3 weeks into his administration, it’s been nothing but chaos – and just wait for the first major terrorist attack, foreign threat, natural disaster, financial calamity or political scandal (Russia) to really see what madness looks like.
But our main observations are about the American media. There’s been lots of accusations about ‘fake news,’ ‘alternative facts,’ and ‘activist journalism’ from both sides of the political spectrum. Having watched and listened to all forms of news down here for the past 4 months [even while travelling, its impossible to escape the new reality], our sense is that the mainstream media is, more than anything else, exceptionally lazy. For example, when Trump or his Press Secretary lies (which happens a lot), the media seems to simply report it, occasionally pointing out the inaccuracy or distortion, then moves on. Where are the blistering and unrelenting journalistic inquiries into each of these ‘untruths?’ Admittedly, keeping up with Trump’s bizarre statements is like drinking from a fire hose, but the mainstream US media (NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, NY Times, Washington Post) should be pursuing each of these distortions with unprecedented fervor and zeal. Otherwise, Trump and his cohorts will, over time, become normalized. And right now, this ain’t normal. Facts and fiction are starting to blur.
The media should also take Trump’s team and supporters to task. Because even if they believe he’ll make changes that might help the economy or improve healthcare, he’s still a ranting nativist, narcissistic, sexist, liar, who spews racist rhetoric. It’s a package – you can’t pick one element and neglect the others. His cabinet choices and political appointees should be constantly grilled, not only on their own, but their boss’s, many and ongoing deficiencies as well as conflicts of interest.
At this stage, the mainstream media seems to be intimidated by Trump and his bullying character. On a daily basis, they routinely and timidly report his foibles but it’s all becoming way too ordinary. It’s almost impossible to watch the nightly news and not say ‘WTF? He just said (or tweeted) that and he’s getting away with it?’ The mainstream media needs to step up and get in the game. For the next 2 years, they’re the only meaningful domestic opposition. Otherwise, and to borrow from Trump, the next 4 years (2 for sure) are going to be a ‘disaster’ because he is one ‘bad hombre.’
[Editor’s note: apologies to anyone sick of hearing about Trump. Stay tuned for more typical bearsgroove posts – stay in the groove!]