I had a house full of people here last night, so I missed the Democratic presidential debate. Feeling like a bad Democrat, I fired up YouTube on my TV this morning as the kids still slept and put it on. I didn’t want to read the pundits or watch a snippet. I wanted to sit through it from beginning to end.
My impressions: first of all, Governor O’Malley, oh my goodness, you cutie pie. Where have you been all my life? How did I not know about you? You can show me your stimulus package any time you…
Wait, sorry, I digress. The debate.
Actually, though, therein lies the problem. I wanted to swoon a little over Governor O’Hottie because the rest of the debate was so… civil. Full of discussions of the issues. Mature. Staid. Not a single person insulted anyone else’s face or said anything remotely batshit crazy.
It was when Bernie Sanders defended his opponent Hillary Clinton by saying the email “scandal” is just manufactured nonsense that no one wants to hear about and then they beamed at each other and shook hands that I realized the problem. There was nothing “newsworthy” in any of this. At least not by the real definition of “newsworthy” in the 21st century.
The 24-hour news cycle is incorrectly labelled as “news.” CNN and Fox and MSNBC are not actually in the business of news. They are in the business of entertainment. It is not entertaining to watch two equally civilized people agree on something that’s obvious. We see that in our own lives every day. Neighbors on opposing sides of a zoning issue respectfully discuss it at planning board meetings. Parents who feel aggrieved by how their child is being treated in school have a civilized discussion with the principal. We live in the adult world where the most heated we get is with a little private road rage that no one hears but us and our unfortunate passengers.
The issues facing our country are real. Also, they’re boring. They require the analysis of complicated information. Who’s got time for that? There’s a new episode of Naked and Afraid XL about to start. What can tear me away from that? What’s that you say, Ben Carson is on TV saying the Oregon victims should have rushed the gunman? Hold on, let me go watch a clip and rage at him. Oh, and Hillary Clinton is drawing subtle distinctions with other respectful politicians who mostly agree on the needs of our nation? Yawn.
And therein lies the problem. As long as we look to our political process for gladiatorial entertainment, we will get what we deserve: Donald Trump as the front runner for the Republican nomination for president of the most powerful nation on Earth.