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Looking Past the Echo Chamber: Is it Possible to Evaluate Trump?

Since virtually everyone I grew up with, excepting my mother, is panicked about a lunatic absent of rational thought or a respect for reality running the most powerful nation in the world, I wanted to examine what Trump has said and pushed through so far from as neutral a POV as possible. It is difficult to get past the obvious absurdity of such a fragile egomaniac saying ridiculous things that needlessly cause tension with anyone who disagrees with him. However, in spite of compromising the position of the press to question his highly suspicious activity, his insistence on awakening the racism of many of his supporters and his obvious lack of diplomacy (fuck you Australia!); it may be of some service to highlight the things Trump has done well since becoming president.

The press is so shocked by Trump’s behavior, especially the confusion and misinformation he purposely spreads, they have no desire to rationally assess his actions. This only gets worse as he begins banning all the once trusted media outlets from The White House. Every conclusion on Trump in the media is born out of fear and the assumption of the worst. Though there’s no doubt Trump is a real danger to the future of America and the world, Trump rightfully accuses the media of trafficking conspiracy and conjecture (ironically, because he’s the king of conspiracy and conjecture). It is my belief we must drown out the propaganda from Trump and the media in order to properly assess if the world as we know it is ending.

The main premise we need to start with is that what normal politicians say publicly (especially when they run for high office) and what they accomplish bear little relationship to each other. In some cases, this is due to overly optimistic declarations in service of galvanizing support, or the administration blatantly lying. Though more times than not, overwhelmed by corporate interests, complexities and unforeseen problems, presidents are forced to compromise their promises and wishes. For instance, Obama like Trump, ran as an antiwar president. He also vowed to protect the privacy and human rights. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for creating a persona as a peaceful leader. As of today, we are still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are largely responsible and deeply invested in a war in Syria with no end in sight, Guantanamo is still open and the NSA needlessly spies on millions of Americans all but ensuring the net is too wide to actually catch terrorists.

Aside from the obvious points that Obama was thoughtful, intelligent and on the same side as the media, this begs the question why Obama given such benefit of the doubt. Obama’s relationship with the mainstream media was cordial. Only in rare instances were Obama’s policies questioned very much. On the Iran deal, The White House blatantly pushed a media supportedpropaganda campaign to curry favor with the media with the use of an “echo chamber” of misinformation that bullied anyone with less than full-fledged support into being cast as a neoconservative warmonger (which is exactly what his administration really was though I don’t think he wanted it that way). In reality, the money Iran received in the deal is being used to strengthen the Iranian military, who are fighting a proxy war with Saudi Arabia in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Pakistan, Bahrain and Iraq that I don’t see ending before Iran has legal nuclear capabilities in eight years.

Unlike Obama, the media assumes the worst of Trump, mostly for good reason and his absurd opposition to the fourth estate. They are actively at war with him. This war is a reaction to Trump’s insistence on lying and calling any critique of him fake news, but he is not solely to blame for this. The media has been extremely biased post-Reagan, but started to get really bad sometime during W’s administration. As a reaction to the Murdoch Empire’s success with the dissemination of misinformed opinion packaged as news and Bush’s obvious incompetence and conflicted interests, the mainstream media became just as partisan as Fox. This is part of the reason Trump has had so much success calling out the media as fake news. It may shock you, but more people trust Trump than the media.

Trump chose to drown out the media establishment by currying favor to the wildly popular citizen journalist movement that Andrew Breitbart cultivated with the rise of the tea party movement and the trollers that support them by trafficking in conspiracy. With Breitbart’s closest advisor and successor Steve Bannon running the Trump administration, the war with the partisan media is finally shifting in favor of the right. Trump is willfully destroying institutions, repealing and replacing. Only God knows if this has a chance of repairing the strongest nation in the history of humanity, but I wouldn’t dismiss the strategy altogether.

The media is playing into Trump’s hands by blatantly creating false narratives based on things Trump didn’t really say. One example is the Sweden thing. When he said look at what happened in Sweden yesterday, he was exhausted and referring to some report he saw on Fox news. He didn’t make up a terrorist attack, but it worked for him in spite of how stupid the media tried to make him look. The genius of Trump drawing attention to Sweden is that there was near certainty there would be stuff to report on during the refugee crisis, if the media looked closely enough. Now the story ends up scaring the country into not wanting to take in fundamentalist refugees, which I believe is a real threat to American culture and security.

While I hate his methods at first glance, Trump is able to shift public attention for a sensible stance by removing his opposition. He understood that Obama was unable to get the public behind him with the press in his favor, so there is no point in bothering with them. In every instance Trump is able to make his own terms, regardless of truth in a post-fact world. By not caring about the truth or the politically correct party line he can open up new ways of thinking. Now we can process things differently, reconsider the failures of the past. Maybe to build something great you need to destroy it first. Or maybe Trump is building an evil autocracy. In my view, it’s too early to judge.

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