When will the punditry realize that we're in a struggle for our lives?
After Julius Caesar's assassination, his nephew Octavian and his fixer Mark Antony immediately moved to consolidate power. Opposing them was the orator, philosopher, and politician Cicero. In a series of speeches he gave which are known as "the Philippics", he laid out in blistering terms what was at stake for the Roman state as one dictatorship was succeeded by another.
Chris Cillizza is no Cicero. Proof of this is the piece he wrote yesterday: Donald Trump is producing the greatest reality show ever. Read it for yourself; I did. I can see he was trying to be post-modern and metacritical, detailing how Donald Trump's reality show career has been glommed onto his presidency.
Would he have written this piece if he were not a rich, white male? Would he have written this piece if he were a black male, seeing an Attorney General who espouses the worst of the 1950s Department of Justice in terms of race relations? Would he have written this piece if he were a Latina, already seeing the effects this administration's policies are having on her community?
The piece is another example of the problem with punditry: it views Trump's shenanigans not as a life or death matter, but as just one big game. It tries to paste a metanarrative of media and art on something which is quite simple: we have a quasi-fascist regime in charge of this nation. That's really what it boils down to.
Now, I recognize that Cillizza is usually hard on Trump. He's no fan of his. But pieces like this don't help him shed the view that many of us have of him as someone who is just interested in the DC games, in how all this plays out as political entertainment. This isn't entertainment to people of color, to the LGBTQ community, to immigrants. This isn't a game to those who see nothing being done about the gun epidemic because of Trump's enthrallment to the NRA. This isn't a divertissement to those who can now no longer afford health insurance because of Trump's actions. The majority of us are in a life-or-death struggle with this regime. We really aren't comparing it to the "greatest reality show" ever made. Reality TV deals in manufactured drama; real tragedies are taking place every day because of this regime.
He ends his piece with this:
That's all it is for too many pundits: entertainment. They'd love it if Trump secured a second term. They're rolling in filthy lucre because of his entertainment value. Meanwhile the world awakes each morning wondering if Trump will let the missiles fly.
I leave the last word to my friend Oliver Willis:
We have no Cicero. We have only Cillizza.
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