The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity...
...And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?''
- 'The Second Coming' by WB Yeats
What have we created?
How can a mannequin, modelling all the trappings of our worst intentions, be on the precipice of the most powerful office in the world?
Sadly, because there is an audience for it.
Not the audience of bigots and white supremacists courted by Trump, although they're engaged too, but all of us. The spectacle gazers.
This is what we asked for.
Life-altering policy speeches in sound bytes.
Major decisions boiled down to adversarial tropes.
Blunders and conflict escalated to front-page news, while the real issues languish and fester, in the dark.
It's all on us. We allowed our news to become hijacked by tabloid showmanship, so now the carnival is in town for good.
Am I overstating this?
There was barely a whimper when it was announced that the Australian Federal Government are planning to water down media ownership laws. For years, these laws have protected the Australian public from media barons (like one who's name rhymes with Rupert Murdoch) forming monopolies across media channels. If the Liberal Government get their way, these legal curtails on the influence of powerful, rich men will be gone.
What made headlines instead?
A reality TV star, famous for being famous, posting an intimate photo of herself online.
And now we have another reality TV star, also providing ceaseless sado-masochistic entertainment, only this one is vying to have his finger on the button.
Think about that for a moment. Donald Trump with the authority to launch a nuclear strike.
So terrifying, in fact, that protests have started to form at his rallies with increasing regularity.
Growing, simultaneously, has been the violence.
A journalist slammed into the ground by a Trump staffer in Virginia.
Trump lamenting that 'in the old days" the protesters would be "carried out in a stretcher", in Nevada.
And then, Chicago. A very bleak day for American democracy.
"Arrest the protesters!" Trump bellows from the pulpit. We scratch our heads and wonder how that's possible when the right to free speech is enshrined in the American Constitution. Police in Kansas City, meanwhile, ruthlessly pepper spray innocent protesters outside a Trump rally.
We did this.
Both the content creators and audience. We are responsible for the ubiquity of reality TV and the 24 hour news cycle. We willed it into being.
But can we take our media back?
I believe we can. The artists can lead.
Whether it's John Oliver, systematically explaining that Trump is a racist and a liar.
Or Louis CK, imploring conservatives to realise that Trump is not one of them, saying: “Trump is not your best. He’s the worst of all of us. He’s a symptom to a problem that is very real. But don’t vote for your own cancer. You’re better than that.”
We need a return to substance in our discourse.
We need conversations that go deeper than whether Trump's hair is a living organism or not. We need to upturn the ugly, the bigoted, the misogynistic - shunning labels and platitudes - and encourage a discussion based on reality, evidence and fact.
We need our best to be full of passionate intensity.
The artists can lead.
But the audience must demand it.
Starting with you.
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