When Reality Show Become Politics

Some call it karma that a New York jury found former president Donald Trump guilty of sexual abusing E. Jean Carroll in a luxury department store dressing room in the spring of 1996. This in light of his 2016 Access Hollywood interview in which he boasted that he could with impunity sexually assault women. “I don’t even wait to start kissing them,” he bragged. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

While I believe it is always satisfying to watch karma kick ass, I think, more importantly, the verdict provides a reality check on the phenomenon of how Trump has leveraged his larger than life public/celebrity image into, until now, an unassailable politician who attempts to subordinate democracy and its institutions to his will.

Trump is a political alchemist who melded politics, media, social climate, and victimization into a brazen autocrat who, if given power again, would make every attempt to elevate himself above the U.S. constitution as he tried to do in overturning the 2020 presidential election.

But there is another dynamic at play in our current political zeitgeist that should be cause for alarm. The groundswell of unchecked online information manifested in opinion, ersatz news, and rampant conspiracy theories, has created a national contempt for American institutions. Today, Trump has shrewdly played his cards to position himself as the leader of that movement. His lack of substantive policies as well as his criticism of judicial and law enforcement institutions creates the illusion that he stands for something in what is essentially a nihilist movement. He is a shark stalking truth in a sea of doubt, clouding the waters with his twisting and thrashing. But like sharks, lies and braggadocio begin to eat themselves as evidenced by the fact his Access Hollywood comments played a key role in his conviction

Trump and his followers are close to creating the reality of what Gorge Orwell said, “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Who would have thought that would be the irony that has come to define America.


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