Weeding one’s way through the modern media and political environment is a lot like Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez cruising down a river in the Amazon – if you’re lucky, you’ll make it out alive and with your sanity while many of your friends and family will not. Polarization has been growing in this country over the past two decades and it kicked into hyper drive during the Trump administration. Seemingly sane and rational people were being slowly radicalized by a media – both left and right – who no longer cared about the facts but instead were focused on hyping up stories to obtain the largest share of the market as possible. It has always been known that passerby’s slow down to view the car wreck on the side of the road, and the media decided they were going to be the ones that caused some of the wrecks in the name of increasing views. Trump made the job easy for the media as he was a divisive and openly evil man who enthusiastically brandished his bigoted and vile policies in defiance of traditional political rhetoric and actions that blanketed these policies behind a smile and “Presidential” rhetoric. I witnessed people who normally kept out of national politics dive headfirst into the shallow end of the pool bumping their heads on the bottom and losing all sense of rational thought. Just as MSNBC and CNN, among other left-leaning media conglomerates, used Trump’s unconventional style to drum up outrage on every corner of discourse, Fox News heightened up their dishonest and antagonizing coverage to further shame and enrage the “liberals” by supporting the atrocity that was Donald Trump’s presidency.
At the end of the day, most Americans don’t hate their neighbor, and the majority certainly don’t participate in the hate filled dialogue in public spaces that we see online – whether that be at your local grocer or restaurant. We all share much more in common with one another than the political elite would like for us to believe. While I did not support Trump and the “America-First” policies he put forward, which was merely loaded messaging meaning “White First,” I also understood that Trump was just saying the silent stuff out loud. The stuff that previous Democratic and Republican administrations had passed, buried deep within some misleading named bill, or condemned while surrendering to the terms in order to grant tax cuts for their biggest political lobbyists. Power in government has been ceased by money, not people, and part of that blame belongs to the media who has acted as a shield as opposed to the “keeping them honest” hostile industry whose job it was to hold politicians’ feet to the fire. The media has turned into a game of access, by which tough questions mean the end to one’s seat at the table further harming the future of their career. We see time and time again as those who speak out against the status quo are ostracized from the corporate-driven media conglomerates who quickly suffered the same ill-fate of monopolization that we see across many industries in the USA today. Being a part of the collective thought police is much more profitable and sustainable than objecting to the accepted narrative.
What this has caused is vast swaths of the country to be left behind, generalized as bigoted or ignorant beyond repair, communities in America’s heartland have been stripped of their natural resources, depleted of safety nets, and left to rot like a deer on the side of the road. Some of this is of their own doing as they have been manipulated by a media and political system that is better off dividing the people than uniting them behind a common cause. We saw this is the south as far back as the end of the Civil War, where whites and blacks were not allowed to congregate or interact due to fear of potential unity and an uprising against the small percentage of people who held wealth and power. We saw it on display in HBO’s brilliant film Judas and the Black Messiah, where former Maywood resident Fred Hampton tried to bring together all the exploited and degraded demographics of people regardless of their beliefs or ignorance. Hampton was later killed because of this mission. There is nothing more harmful to the top-heavy system now than the unification of those beneath.
As technology continues to advance forward, we are told with each step of supposed progress that more and more workers are unskilled and should be paid as such. The concept of a livable wage is balked at by the self-proclaimed “progressive” technology barons of the 21st century. As companies such as Amazon, Uber and Grubhub are propped up by a workforce that they claim is not their own to avoid giving them the benefits and pay, like an absentee father avoiding child support while claiming the benefits, that were fought for by our grandparents and great grandparents in violent uprising in the name of unionization in the face of the corporate boot who did everything within their power to squash the movement. If the pandemic taught us anything it is that the workers essential for the success of this country are the ones most often demeaned as unskilled and a replaceable workforce. Reality is, the work they manage and perform is imperative for many of us to continue on living our lives safely and comfortably. Why is it fair for them to live uncomfortably while we use them as a resource to make our lives more efficient and comfortable? History has a funny way of repeating itself and the railroad tycoons of the 19th century have been replaced by the internet tycoons of the 21st century. If you cannot pay the workers essential for the operational success of your billion dollar companies, you shouldn't be in business in the first place.