Welcome to the new Colosseum.
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As we all know, politics is not for the faint of heart, but 2016 will be remembered as the year it became vicious. Gone are the days of professional courtesy, such as Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” Instead, it has turned into a blood sport, much like what we see on reality TV with such competitive shows as “Survivor,” “Wicked Tuna,” “Ultimate Survival Alaska,” “The Biggest Loser,” “America’s Got Talent,” and professional wrestling. All of these shows are staged events that are taped and carefully edited for dramatic effect. It is immaterial whether they are real or not, it is what the public prefers in entertainment today.
The 2016 political campaign is essentially no different, which explains why voters are gravitating to primaries in record numbers. First, we have to understand the anger of the nation towards Washington politicians. They are disgusted with the gridlock, the incompetence, and the general direction of the country. Nobody understands this better than businessman Donald J. Trump who has tapped into the American psyche at an extraordinary level. Let us not forget his own reality show, “The Apprentice.” Because of it, Trump has a better understanding of how the spectacle appeals to the public than his competitors.
The campaign nastiness we have been witnessing goes way beyond mud slinging. It has gotten down and dirty like we have not seen in over 100 years, yet it has touched a nerve with the American public who views it as a throwback to the bloody days of the Colosseum in Rome, where spectators raised thumbs up or down as to the fate of the opponents.
Historically, politicians relied on civil discourse, endorsements by reputable people, and political contributions from the rich. None of this carries the weight it once did, as the public would rather see the gladiators bloodied and doing battle in the center of the arena. The biggest casualty though is the donor class, the rich who historically foot the bill for the politicians in the past. Then along comes Billionaire Trump who doesn’t want or need such contributions, thereby maintaining his integrity and independence. This unnerves the donor class who are used to controlling their gladiator slaves.
The real culprit though is the media who conditioned the public to accept this new form of entertainment. It may seem ugly at times, but it is great for television ratings. The GOP debates alone have set records for the networks. To help this along, the network anchors moderating the debates carefully pose questions aimed at baiting the candidates. Instead of taking the moderators to task, the candidates gullibly take the bait and attack their opponents. Again, such shenanigans make for excellent ratings and gives the public what it wants, a blood sport.
The ratings of both the president and the Congress are incredibly low. This explains why outsiders are viewed as heroes, and politicians as villains. This delineation is important in reality TV as we want to root for the good guys versus the bad guys, even in television wrestling.
The 2016 election cycle will continue to be viewed as ugly and tasteless through to election day in November. Nonetheless, it will result in the highest ratings and voter turnout in our history, all thanks to our new attitude towards political campaigns. No, this isn’t your grandfather’s campaign, or Ronald Reagan’s for that matter. It is a new day in American politics, something very noteworthy.
So, who is ready for election reform or will this modern day Colosseum continue?
Keep the Faith!