There are more frightening possibilities than President Donald Trump.
Consider whether Fox News or George W. Bush has been more influential on US ways of life, our dominant cultural trends, the prevailing vitriol amongst partisans, and the overall dreadful state of current US democracy and discourse.
On the one hand, there's no doubt that Bush caused irreparable harm to the world and to the nation during his eight years in office. On the other, Fox News helped make both of his terms a possibility, and continues to cause the nation and world irreparable harm eight years since Bush faded from public view to focus on painting cats or something. On top of that, Fox News isn't going anywhere. Still worse yet, its success opened the door for the rise of neo-reactionary media outlets like Breitbart that cater to the so-called alt-right. I say so-called because "alt-right" is, ironically, a politically correct term for white supremacist.
Isolating causal effects of media is a difficult task, but it's easy to see a downward spiral here. Fox News' brand of tabloid partisan journalism, entirely sans facts, helped mainstream know-nothing politics. This, in turn, helped make Bush's election and reelection possible, while also creating room for Breitbart's entry into the increasingly crowded domain of gutter journalism. Circling the drain ever further, we can see how Breitbart helped pave the way for the nomination of an orange, thin-skinned celebillionaire reality TV star by one of our two major political parties. And here, in the wastelands of politics and buried under the waste heap of modern journalism, the frightening possibility of Trump Television looms.
At the heart of Trump's success has been a frenzy of media coverage in the race to gobble up ratings--democracy be damned.
Executive chairman and CEO of CBS Les Moonves will go down in history for putting a face to media's rapacious attitude regarding Trump's candidacy.
"It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS," Moonves said, presumably while rubbing his hands together greedily.
Look, I'm a pinko who believes capitalism messes everything up and that we should cease subjecting ourselves to its barbarism, so I'm admittedly biased. But capitalism really, really, reaaaally fucks up journalism. There's no better example than media's love affair with the bizarre spectacle of Trump's candidacy and the resulting heap of copy, airtime, and bandwidth filled with vapid bullshit about a candidate full of vapid bullshit.
And seeing other rich people get richer off The Donald Trump Show, while Trump himself is left out of the earnings, well that is something Trump can't abide. Combine this with the opening to the right--the white supremacist right more accurately--of Fox News that Breitbart and Trump's success as a candidate helped demonstrate, and the prospects of Trump Television start to look even better.
Imagine the damage over the coming years a platform that further mainstreams the type of ethno-nationalist authoritarianism Trump embodies could wreak on society. That's what Trump Television could do.
We're already seeing overt white nationalists--emboldened by Trump--taking their hate from behind computer screens and the dark world of the White Web into the physical world to openly debate classic matters of Nazism like the Jewish Question. And we're seeing national political figures like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) increasingly publicly embrace white supremacist rhetoric.
Reminder. This is in the United States of America. In 2016.
Of course it isn't just Trump or Fox News or Breitbart that are responsible for the woeful state contemporary society finds itself in. They're just strands connected to a bigger web of social conditions and failing institutions. Adding another strand to that web for Trump Television might complete the monster's house, heralding our doom.
If Trump was this successful given the current media landscape, the addition of Trump Television to the scene will make the triumph of Trump 2.0 even more likely. Make no mistake, Donald Trump is an ass. He's out of touch. He doesn't seem to have any true ideological compass outside of me me me. And he doesn't have "the best words". The rise of a younger, well-spoken, better looking, and all around slicker protégé with even deeper ties to fascism isn't an unrealistic possibility in the near future. Give someone like that the power of propaganda that an even marginally popular media outlet could provide, and America's road from (supposed) democracy to authoritarian state will be nearing its end.
That's not the future I want for my kid.
People like to preach nonviolence (I'm looking at you liberals.) So here's my challenge. Step up. It's time. Be nonviolent now. The ability to do so is a privilege. Use it. Because when those advocating the allegedly superior tactics of nonviolence fail to use them to stop oppression in its tracks, they have no right to judge when those facing the existential threat of interpersonal, structural, and cultural violence defend themselves by any means necessary.
My family fled the pogroms once. Next time we aren't going anywhere.
Note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.