Something that deeply, deeply bothers me right now is how Donald Trump is constantly being given oxygen to air his grievances against Republicans, Democrats, and the 2020 election. There is no end to the amount of whining and moaning he is capable of producing on the subjects, and he adds nothing to the greater national discourse of the issues of today.
Yet, despite the fact that he contributes nothing to the ongoing issues of the day — unemployment, COVID-19, inflation, the immigration crisis, etc. — he is still the primary topic of conversation among Republican politicians, Democratic politicians, and major media outlets. They are all obsessed with him because they truly believe one of two things: Either Donald Trump is good for my side, or Donald Trump is bad for the other side.
I mentioned last week that had Liz Cheney simply kept her eyes forward and not in the rearview mirror, she would not be faced with a revolt that will cost her a job in GOP leadership. Likewise, if Kevin McCarthy and the Trump loyalists of the House GOP had kept their eyes forward, they would be able to maintain unity ahead of a tidal wave election that will put them back into power in the House and possibly give their party control of the Senate as early as 2022.
But the Republicans are not the only ones obsessed with Trump and the 2020 election. The Democrats are constantly trying to keep the spotlight on Trump and his loyalists in the Republican Party, and are really trying to keep Republicans on the defensive about Trump. They have to do this, though, because their party doesn’t really have any accomplishments to run on as of now. COVID-19 is largely on the decline, but the Biden administration is inconsistent on its messaging about a return to normalcy. There is a credibility gap that is causing people to refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and everyone is ignoring basically any other health advice because Biden’s CDC has offered absolutely nonsensical advice on masking, outdoor behavior, etc.
Meanwhile, cable news ratings are in freefall because there really aren’t any Trump outrages to get mad about. Americans have already moved on, but outlets like CNN rely on making everything about Trump just so they can hold onto as many viewers as possible. But it isn’t working. There is a reason Brian Stelter’s program actually has more viewers when he isn’t on than when he is — his anti-Fox/anti-Trump material is the same recycled garbage every week and everyone in his audience is tired of it.
So, media outlets have to keep Trump in the news in order to keep their viewership/readership up and in order to try and forestall the Republicans’ inevitable rise back into power. The agenda that the Democrats are pushing is one that a majority of Americans feel skittish about at best. At worst, they are going to actively run away from it.
The ones who are hurt in all this are average Americans who don’t live in those hyperpolitical/hyperpartisan bubbles. They don’t see Trump on a daily basis and they have largely moved on from Trump. He isn’t mentioned in your average state political conversation or local political conversation. He isn’t constantly covered in local and state newspapers. He is a phenomenon unique in the national political and journalism circles, and they are seeking to keep him relevant for their own purposes, not for any actual good of the country. Meanwhile, every other American is watching as the economy continues to suck, jobs continue to be unavailable, and money and resources continue to be scarce.
But, hey, as long as we know exactly what Donald Trump is doing and how he’s going to hurt or help the country next, nothing else matters, right?