Reality T.V. Comes to Politics

trumpEveryone’s talking about it. How did Trump defeat a lineup of seasoned politicians and emerge as the frontrunner, the close-to-certain presidential nominee for the Republican Party of the United States of America? Really? Seriously?

Pundits are saying that a disenfranchised group of Americans is receptive to Trump’s message, which seems to be that America isn’t great, but it will become great if we get rid of much of our nation including immigrants and refugees. They say that this right wing – possible majority – trusts him more than they trust the Beltway Aluminum Siding Salesmen who are our senators, congressmen, and governors.

I don’t think it’s about not trusting the present politicians at all (although I agree we can’t trust them). Trump is where is he because he spent seven years perfecting reality TV messaging in a way that no one else in the field had ever done. Reality TV has come to call on our electoral process.

Reality TV is sound bites. Moments that manipulate people into believing what you want them to believe about who you are and what they need. It’s taking them on a roller coaster ride of feeling superior to others, or feeling like they are finally in the room where they were persona non-grata most of their lives before reality TV.

Trump made a lot of mistakes in the first years of The Apprentice. He learned what works and what doesn’t. Watch the brilliant intro to the first season and compare the language he uses to the way he speaks now. He learned to merge reality TV, acting, and sound bites to make people feel things. So, he doesn’t answer questions about policy or foreign affairs. Instead he points his finger at someone asking for real answers and changes the subject in a way that is entertaining and makes you forget about what the real issues are.

And that, in a nutshell, is why he is where he is. From The Apprentice to the White House. Psychology Today warned about the long term effects of reality TV, and mirroring reality is not one of them. It’s about creating a false reality, and Donald Trump has done it brilliantly, while everyone else has been playing by the old, stodgy rules of political debate that no longer resonate with anyone who can vote.

Let’s say he gets the nomination. It will be up to Hillary, or Bernie, to refuse to be an actor in reality TV when we are supposed to be viewing Who Should Lead the United States of America? If she/he responds the way the GOP has, then he might just win in November. If the media and the candidate across from him reminds him he is not on The Apprentice anymore and we as a nation want to hear specifics on how he is going to make America great again, then I do not believe he will.

I have had dinner with Donald Trump. He never asked me a question. He was pompous, interrupting anyone who spoke about anything, including things he brought up. He was rude, sexist, and he was exaggerating about things everyone at the table knew were lies. What is interesting is that I never once challenged him. He was not made to be accountable for his outrageous behavior by any of the eight people at the table. Mistake, Christine, big mistake. Left unchecked by those around him helped create this out of control ego. We can no longer be silent. And, the press has to worry less about sound bite ratings and more about presenting the ideas that candidates bring to the table.

I get that everyone is angry at DC and those that run it. I get that it’s time for a change. This man is not the change anyone is looking for. He really isn’t. This is a mistake of mammoth proportions that just might be the thing that brings down our country forever.

Oh my.

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