On a stage adorned with American flags and amid the glitter of Las Vegas, Donald Trump, who had been threatening a third party run for the presidency, revealed he is endorsing Mitt Romney for president of the United States. Earlier in the day it had been rumored that ‘The Donald’ would be endorsing New Gingrich but that turned out to be false. Whether ‘The Donald’s’ gurus in media attention planned the “mistake” we will probably never know. A more valid question is this. Why should we care who Donald Trump endorses for President?
To say that ‘The Donald’ has a penchant for attracting the white-hot lights of media attention would be to state the blatantly obvious. For months Mr. Trump advanced the idea that he might enter the race for the presidency but whenever pushed to declare “yea” or “ney” alluded to the ridiculous notion that his contract with NBC wouldn’t “allow” him to run…equal time restrictions, don’t you know. Right. And if you believe that…well, “you’re fired!”
Make no mistake; I am not taking issue with ‘The Donald’ for his unique ability to captivate the media. More power to him. I am taking issue with the mainstream media and those swayed by celebrity endorsements of political figures for even caring. We – as a voting public – should aspire to make our political choices based on our own research and experiences, not the declarations of those lucky enough to have achieved notoriety; famous or infamous.
In the “Information Age,” when people can logon to Thomas.gov and/or any number of governmental watchdog websites in an effort to understand the policies, politics and voting habits of anyone in the elected realm – or for that matter, anyone seeking the elected realm, it is unconscionable for the voting public to base their choices for elected office on the declarations of notables and celebrities. This is intellectually slothful and an affront to the US Constitution and our Republican system of government. Alas, a significant portion of the voting public is, in fact, swayed by these types of endorsements, much to the detriment of our nation.
While ‘The Donald’ is a very astute businessman, by all measure successful beyond the norm, he is still someone with a finite set of life experiences. His experiences come through his activities in high finance, AAA-grade investments and the influences of social circles unavailable to the vast majority of Americans. Interestingly, Mr. Romney is accustomed to the same circles. The idea – and one floated by Mr. Romney himself – that he is a self-made man might be true for his bank account dollar totals, but the fact is this; anyone who is privileged enough to grow up the son of a governor and former presidential candidate is not someone who had to struggle to climb the ladder of success; he is someone who has had a boost-up from the beginning.
The same can be said of many of the celebrities who are constantly telling their followers, fans and sycophants what to think, what to say, who to support and what to do about myriad causes and political candidates. They do not live in the real world, although they may have once come from there. No, these “personalities,” today, live in the realm of the elites, limousines, “posses,” and privilege; the memories of hard-times and “salad days” long behind them. And while they may remember what it was like to struggle as they worked their “way up,” they did so in a different time; a time where financial lenders didn’t bundle mortgage-backed securities to the point of market collapse, a time when TSA officials weren’t giving airline passengers proctological exams, a time when elected politicians didn’t blatantly lie to electorate for political gain, at least not so openly.
That said, because the notables and the celebrities do not live as an overwhelming majority of us do; because they live a life of glamour and privilege, they have a completely different set of values and dramatically different agendas. This is apparent to anyone who has listened to the New England, Silicon Valley or Hollywood wealthy advocate for increased federal funding for social issues – both in the United States and around the world, or that the “rich” (they use the amount of $250,000 on average to define “rich”) should “pay their fair share.” Anyone paying a mortgage and saving not only for retirement but to put a child through college knows that making $250,000 annually hardly classifies a household as “rich.” It’s no wonder many of us took umbrage at Mr. Romney’s “I’ll bet you $10,000” challenge to Texas Governor Rick Perry during one of the GOP Primary debates. Where $10,000 may be “bettin’ money” to Mr. Romney, it is a lot of money to the majority of the American electorate.
And while I have no use for celebrity endorsements, I have even less use for the endorsements and “conscious molding” of the mainstream media. Whether it is the majority of alphabet media outlets serving up favorable coverage of Mr. Obama and his presidency – which, when one looks at the facts and the numbers, has been one of the most partisan, divisive and ineffective presidencies in the history of the United States, or the “Conservative media” trying to canonize the GOP Presidential Nominee four states into the primary cycle, the mainstream media has consistently chosen to tell the voting public what to think instead of providing them with information that would allow us to make our own educated decisions; facts that would help us divine which candidates are right for us as individuals.
What is particularly maddening about the agendized mainstream media is that there is little recourse for the citizenry to exact a penalty against these outlets short of not patronizing their broadcasts and publications. This is because the Founders and Framers knew full well that if government was to be held in check via public oversight, the citizenry needed a protected, honest and truly free press, thus the journalistic inclusion in the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (emphasis mine)
To wit, a colleague of mine, Brian Cherry, once mused to me the idea of applying the “Lemon Law” to the mainstream media. His idea was to file a lawsuit against major agendized publications and news outlets, not for advancing their ideological agendas in an ultra-partisan and disingenuous fashion, but because they were selling a product to the American consumer that wasn’t what it was advertised as being: the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth regarding the who, what, where, when, why and how of the events of the day.
But that is another story for another time…
The overriding point I am trying to make is this: We should make the decision on who to vote for based on our own research, valuing a candidates actions – both past and present – more than their campaign stump rhetoric. This allows each of us – as individuals – to value and view each candidate according to our own sets of experiences and values, not the experiences and values of someone else and most definitely not the experiences and values of the corporate giants or the glitterati.
In doing our own homework about the candidates, in not allowing those tainted by extraordinary life experiences or ideological partisanship to influence our decision-making, in filtering out the agendized special interests who will say and do anything to garner your support for “their guy” – including bribing the American electorate with promises of government entitlement, we do our constitutional duty to protect the Charters of Freedom.
It is time that we do this; protect the Charters of Freedom.
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
– Benjamin Franklin, 1775