Back in November, slightly less than half of American voters elected our first reality TV show president. For many, it was a genuinely painful choice. They didn’t like their options, but, since America is an Option A or Option B kind of place, they held their nose and pressed what they hoped would be the least bad button. You know the rest.
Since November, I have come to realize that many hoped the button they were pushing was connected to much needed change. Some saw their choice in terms of Ultimate Washington Insider vs. Ultimate Washington Outsider. Some thought they were voting for a successful business executive. That’s completely understandable. There are very tall buildings all around the world with his name on them. He had casinos and a university. Who am I to know if any of these ventures are actually successful? You don’t see my name on the top of tall buildings, casinos and universities.
Unfortunately, those who voted for the successful business executive got the reality TV star, instead. Now, we all find ourselves trapped inside a reality TV show. The usual rules of logic, evidence and careful deliberation do not apply. Facts are debased. Conflict is amplified.
Fans of reality TV know how this goes. There is no script. All that matters is a compelling, engaging narrative every day with obvious heroes and villains. When the story goes stale, the conflict is easily refreshed with a few well-placed tweets. This story will be a shambling, nonsensical cascade of escalating conflict and aggrievement until the season ends or the show gets canceled.
In the meantime, we are all trapped inside. I never hoped to be in a reality TV show, but now that I’m here, I’m desperate to know which TV show this is so I can understand the rules.
The White House itself seems to operate like The Apprentice. Each week, the cast is given an impossible, ridiculous task, and, each week, someone hear’s the unfortunate, but expected tagline: “You’re fired.”
Congress seems to operate like Big Brother. A crowd of mismatched strangers forced to get along without any real purpose or sense of direction except trying not to look like a total loser on live TV.
The rest of us, I fear, are Naked and Afraid. There are no tools. There are no ready-made shelters. We’ve just got each other and the ever-present hope that, if we work together and stay focused, someone will eventually show up in a rescue jeep, boat or helicopter before we die of starvation, bacterial infection, or get eaten by wild animals.