Each weekday I watch “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, hoping to catch a glimpse of intelligent conversation, and to jumpstart my brain. The debates oftentimes turn into verbal poop, but that’s okay, that’s to be expected. But I can’t take it anymore. It’s driving me crazy. Trump, Trump, Trump that’s all they talk about. I switch to CNN and it’s more of the same. They are covering the news, that’s what they say. Maybe they don’t understand, or perhaps they do, that their continuous coverage promotes Donald Trump, the Carnival Barker turned presidential candidate.
Trump labels illegal immigrants from Mexico as criminals, rapists, and general bad asses — oh, I forgot. Trump said there are “probably” a few good ones — or he hurls disgusting remarks directed towards Megyn Kelly, a Fox network newsperson, who according to Trump, has blood running from her mouth and from “you know where.” Let’s give Donald a little credit, he loves the Mexican people and they love him, so he says. My initial reaction is to call the circus absolute and complete bullshit. But it’s working for him and I know why.
America is upset at congress which is sporting a nineteen-percent approval rating. How can you not be upset with a congress unwilling to accomplish any meaningful legislation? Hey people, in case you don’t know, President Obama holds a positive approval rating that hovers around 50 percent; not bad from a pissed-off America. Oh, and how about the House of Representatives who have voted over fifty times to repeal Obamacare. If they want to make improvements, work with the president to improve a law that currently helps a lot of people. Screaming does not help. It just makes people scream more.
Donald Trump is a master at pushing the hot buttons on a downcast, long-faced society. I can tell you how he does it. Meet someone at your favorite coffee shop and drop some words or phrases that you know will light a fire in his/her ass. To be successful, it helps to know the person’s political slant. Try this one on the extreme, rightwing leaning individual — Hey, buddy, I’m damn tired of those illegal Mexicans coming into our country, taking our jobs, and raping our women. I guarantee a strong reaction. Now lets try lighting the fire of the leftwing leaning individual — Hey, buddy, I’m damn tired of this garbage coming out of the cesspool called Donald Trump’s mouth. Again, I guarantee a strong reaction. It’s all about pressing someone’s “hot buttons.” Ready yourself for an immediate, knee-jerk reaction. And by the way, they will love you for saying it.
I’m reminded of the Music Man, a long running musical about a salesman, possibly a Carnival Barker, who comes to River City, a small-town community, to sell all of the children a musical instrument. Of course, the Music Man has no intention of delivering the instruments. His plan is to collect the money and skip town. He goes about selling the idea that the local pool hall will destroy the moral compass of their children. A pool cue in each child’s hand is the first step towards juvenile delinquency, imprisonment, and possibly hell. I can hear the woeful sounds of the townspeople now.
Compare the rantings of the Music Man to those of the Carnival Barker who became a presidential candidate.
We’ve surely got trouble!
Right here in River City!
Remember the Main, Plymouth Rock and the Golden Rule!
Oh, we’ve got trouble.
We’re in terrible, terrible trouble.
That game with the fifteen numbered balls is a devil’s tool!
Oh yes we got trouble, trouble, trouble!
With a “T”! Gotta rhyme it with “P”!
And that stands for Pool!!!!
Get the idea? You’re most likely a Trump supporter if he activates your deep frustrations and beliefs. But if you count to ten after he bellows out his song, you might realize that the carnival barker has no solutions. Building the tallest of all walls on the border separating Mexico from the United States, paid for by Mexico; sending back eleven million illegal immigrants to Mexico; and ignoring the constitution’s fourteenth amendment is not going to happen. History is filled with stories of statesman-like congressional members and senators who have worked together for the betterment of our society. Oh where oh where have the statesman/stateswoman gone?
I wrote two books on prison inmates who are currently serving time for murder; and a memoir about a young boy who was physically and sexually abused by his brother and others; by the way that was me. I’m familiar with people who operate on a “hair trigger.” My first book was about an inmate who was held “accountable” for the murder of a gay man. You might say that her emotions were activated by the touch of a “hair trigger.” The slightest provocation could put an end to our three-hour meetings — the allotted time in the prison’s visit room. Each interview required a gentle stride as I walked through an imaginary bed of hot coals. Any misstep could burn my ass. I suppose that it was inevitable. On one visit she stood, turned, and quick-stepped her way to another room where she was strip searched before rejoining the general prison population. Six months passed before she spoke to me again. So much to learn. Life changed in so many ways; my horse blinders were removed, a broader, crystal clear vision came forth, and spiritual seeds seemingly sprouted from my soul.
In her world, many of the people — good and bad — have a “hair trigger” of their own, ready to fight at the slightest provocation. We are the product of our genetic makeup and our life experiences. This much I know. Change is difficult, but possible. Of course there are individuals who have been so emotionally damaged that they are beyond repair. That is the unfairness of it all. Most of us have heard the expression count to ten before answering what you perceive as a provocation, if needed count to one hundred. This simple rule can be found in Thomas Jefferson’s writings, “The Canons of Conduct.” For Jefferson it was common sense, but for many of us it is a lesson unlearned. Hair trigger, count to ten, knee-jerk reaction share the same message — think before you accept the Carnival Barker’s message. Today it seems more difficult than years past. There is a segment of the population that is aware of America’s short fuse, and use it to their advantage. They’re called politicians.
Politics is a cesspool possibly found around the dinning room table when certain relatives come to visit, the local coffee shop, and any place where two or more people engage in conversation. The cesspool is formed, in part, by the daily shit dumped on the national airwaves. Lies and half-truths are peddled as absolute truth and designed to activate the hair trigger, knee-jerk reaction, the inability to count to ten, and in general terms, reach people unable to think with a clear mind.
We, as individuals, need to base our actions on truth rather than an emotional reaction to some word or phrase that ignites our prejudice, racism, and downright ignorance. Be gone, the Carnival Barker, the Music Man, the Medicine Man who peddles the merits of his latest elixir, and the politician who preys upon your emotions for a rise in the latest polls.