Is This The Real Life? The Thin Line Between Politics and Reality TV

by Lauren Wagner| February, 17| 10:43 AM CMT
Reality show producers create hits with a recipe for drama that mixes people, narcissism, insults, alliance breaking, and strategic power plays. What comes out of the proverbial oven is the sensational TV that Americans have been eating up for over 25 years.

IMDB/NBC Universal

The producers’ main goal is for viewers to get lost in the storylines, to feel either bonded with (or repulsed by) the characters. Each little inconsequential bit ends with a disingenuous—but dramatic—cliffhanger, to draw viewers into the next segment or episode. Drama is key. Manufactured conflict is gold. Such strategies for attracting viewership work well for these purposes. But applying them beyond the scope of reality television, to the much more serious arena of our national politics, is not only inappropriate but dangerous.
Supplanting the status quo, the established modus operandi of politics, our new and unqualified leader introduced a new and unqualified political operation. It’s undeniable that there currently exists an alarming similarity between reality television production methods and Trump’s new political culture.
President Trump produced very successful television, and not only did it launch his political career but it also gave many people a sense of who Trump is, based on his on-screen persona. When ‘The Apprentice’ was the new hit show, it didn’t matter that in reality, Trump had many more business failings than successes. The show intended for him to be seen as an authority, as a successful and tough, but somewhat reasonable, businessman. That manipulated reality makes for excellent television, but is downright terrifying in U.S. politics.
The new administration entertains and exhausts the public with almost daily dramatic cliffhangers. Unlike television, they don’t ever seem to answer the burning questions or provide any substantive arguments. Just the short list of unanswered questions and incomplete policies includes:
• How ‘extreme vetting’ differs from our current intensive vetting practices.
• What proof the President has that sources like CNN or The New York Times are ‘fake news’. Media at large has long been viewed as liberal slanting. What evidence does Trump have that disproves something they printed or aired that they didn’t correct or amend themselves?
• Any detail on how the administration plans to repeal/replace ACA without millions of Americans losing Medicaid expansions and access to health insurance.
• Why was Mike Pence kept in the dark about Flynn’s communications with Russia during the Obama administration?
• What evidence is there that sulking democrats or own security services leaked the Flynn info? And isn’t national security a bipartisan issue?
• The President has claimed that he will ‘defeat ISIS’ and ‘make America safe again.’ without providing any provable evidence as to how he can defeat an ideology, why we’ve been unsafe, or what specifically he dislikes about our current intensive vetting process.
• How public schools will get better by giving tax money to the new big business of charter schools.
• President Trump promised to eliminating regulations meant to protect consumers from predatory banking practices. He has yet to say how this would be good for average Americans and not just the Plutocratic oligarchy.
• How self-proclaimed patriots could support 33 hearings on Benghazi, but not ONE on whether Russian adversaries infiltrated the White House.
• Why were unethical dealings between Flynn and Russia not a problem until it was leaked to the public?
• How does targeting Muslims makes us safer from ISIS? Knowing that they recruit based on a narrative that Americans are at war with Islam, how does playing into that make us safer from the wrath of a radical ideology?
• What on earth is in our president’s taxes, and why have Americans accepted his audit excuse when no such policy exists?
• What conflicts exist that enable President Trump to oversee tax regulations for corporations he is invested in, and or owes millions to?
• Why roll back transparency rules that will hurt our standing abroad?
• When asked about an uptick in threats to Jewish Community Centers and swastika graffiti all over the U.S. the President claimed that democrats are responsible for many of these acts. What proof is there? Again, Trump provided to substantive information backing up the inflammatory claim.

My list of unanswered questions and still unsubstantiated generalities could go on…and on…and on. The point is these questions would have answers in reality, but they persist because of a masterfully manipulated reality TV like show we’re all watching together and debating online.
ALL Americans should be calling for this show to be canceled, because the consequences of continuing to watch and right-fight could be worse for our democracy than any patriot would want.

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