I don’t want to make this whole piece about Donald Trump and even not most of it and perhaps just a lot of it, but the way I look at America’s Departure From Reality (to paraphrase Kurt Anderson) is way I describe Donald Trump’s approach to politics and broader approach to salesmanship. Which is that it’s not what’s true that’s important to him, but what’s believable. And not what’s believable to most people or intelligent people. But what’s believable to enough people for him to accomplish what he wants.
In 2016 that was the presidency and perhaps now it’s just about what’s believable to his base so his presidency doesn’t completely go under water. Right now President Trump’s approval rating is somewhere between 33-37% depending on what non-Fox News and Rasmussen poll you look at. Even Fox News has him in the low to mid forties right now. And you take President Trump’s base away from him he’s probably in the teens right now and perhaps low teens. Not the Republican Party but just his base in the Republican Party. Which is about 4-10 Republicans.
President Trump believes for him to stay alive and not risk being kicked out of office or asked to resign even with a Republican Congress, he has to have his base with him. And to for hat he has to tell them things that are believable to them even if the rest of the country knows what he’s saying his complete garbage. (To be kind) Millions of Americans perhaps have escaped the real world to break from reality and perhaps live in so-called reality TV because their real world is too scary for them. But so does their own President.
America’s break from reality of course didn’t start with Donald Trump. Right now he’s just the overwhelming benefactor of it. Where he now represents people who believe that Russia had nothing to do with the 2016 elections and didn’t try to interfere in them. Even though President’s own intelligent agencies have told him that Russia tried to hack our elections. Climate change is a hoax, 9/11 was an inside job, Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and I could go on. But America’s break from reality has nothing to do with Donald Trump. Again he’s just the biggest benefactor of it.
We now live in a country where Americans believe reality TV is actually real and the people on these shows are like that in real-life. When in fact we now now (or at least some of us) that the cast members on those shows are encouraged by the producers of those shows to act out and be the biggest jerks they can and get into arguments with other cast members about nothing to draw the biggest ratings. Because conflict is what sells on TV.
Life in America can be tough and stressful and Americans sometimes need a break from that and be able to escape their own reality. Which is why we take vacations and a lot of us watch the tube and get online when we get home from work especially after we’ve completed everything we need to do that day. That’s fine and I do these things myself. But it’s when alternative reality takes over our lives and we start to live in those worlds and start seeing and hearing things that simply don’t exist is where virtual reality becomes a problem and we look stupid as a result. Americans are only as powerful and free as we are educated and intelligent.
The smarter we are the freer and powerful we are because we’ll make the right decisions for ourselves and people who depend on us. But the more virtual reality and so-called reality TV takes over our lives and we actually take those things seriously instead of the mindless entertainment that it is (like pro wrestling) the dumber we become and the less free that we are as a people and country.