In the name of optimism, let’s see Donald Trump’s media presence as an opportunity to discuss the real meaning of “winning.”
Lots of political pundits like to quip that “past is prologue.” If that really is the case (debatable), then CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC have no one but themselves to thank for the (almost) inevitable Republican nomination of Donald Trump.
Back at the beginning of this contest, all these stations – but CNN especially – advertised their presidential debates as if they were WWE tournaments. Severe-close up facial shots in ominous lighting, one “candidate” flashing across the screen after the other, weighty music building to a climax with the final showdown question: WHO WILL EMERGE VICTORIOUS?
I mean. This is nonsense. I’m a Millennial, so I’ll say it:
I just can’t even.
We are NOT electing a world-class heavyweight of attention gimmicks. Rubio gets endorsed by wildly popular Governor Nikki Haley? Seems like a good time to get in a Twitter war with… The Pope.
This is Trump’s tactic, and it has worked spectacularly. He hogs all the media attention, which has made it impossible for anyone else to compete.
Kevin Spacey recently told a reporter, on the topic of this election cycle, “we get what we deserve.” He went on to explain that when journalism becomes about how many clicks you can get, how many eyeballs you can buy, then it ceases to be journalism at all.
We’re all in the entertainment biz now, folks. In futile protest, you can join me in watching future political coverage exclusively on PBS.
Rather depressing: cable news hosts are kidding themselves if they believe some about-face, from friendly free media givers to hard-hitting journalists, will be enough to stop Trump from the White House. Reports out yesterday that, according to nomination stat analysis from Helmut Norpoth, Trump has a 96% chance of winning the nomination, and a 94% chance of winning in November.
At any rate, barring some real miracle (come on, I believe!!!), Trump will be the Republican nominee, and one with a strong chance of winning in November.
So how do we teach male students that violence is not an appropriate response to aggression? When Donald Trump yells to a protestor at his rally that he’d “like to punch him in the face?”
In the name of tireless optimism, I see Donald Trump’s media presence as a real opportunity to help male students understand what strength is, and remind them that while the good guy may not always “win,” being the good guy is in and of itself a character victory.
This is something we don’t often have reason or material to highlight. Some of the greatest heroes of human history would be considered “losers” by Donald Trump. One need look no further than his absurd and heinous trashing of John McCain for getting caught in the Vietnam War.
In Donald’s world, only those who achieve success by conventional standards can be considered “winners.” Toughing it out for years – heck, just surviving – a POW camp? That doesn’t fit Trump’s criteria.
This is an unbelievably childish worldview, which is not surprising given the source, but it does provide teachers a chance to show just how wrong that analysis is.
Socrates lost his legal battle and was summarily executed. The man is revered as one of the bravest, most extraordinary men to ever live precisely because he did not abandon his ideals for the sake of his own life. Instead, he stood by them, and cheerily insisted upon them, up to the final moments of his existence.
Nelson Mandela went to prison for his commitment to a free and equal society in South Africa. He spent over two decades in confinement, quietly believing that his dream of racial justice would come to fruition, that the world would at last see his struggle.
It did. He won.
Self-sacrifice for truth and the betterment of others: this is a crucial tenet of western mythology. From the struggle against England for independence to Doc Holliday’s Tombstone showdown to The Crucible’s heartbreaking final scene: John Proctor refusing to sign onto the lie that he was a witch, even knowing that doing so means sure hanging.
Show me a hero who doesn’t “lose” in order to win.
I understand that Donald Trump is a reassertion of alpha-male dominance, and that he has reached out to voters whom our culture has been deriding for years now. The mere fact that I can type “redneck” but not any number of similar ethnic slurs birthed during the same time period tells you everything you need to know about how much the “flyover states” are disdained by most of those with access to the levers of cultural power.
Donald Trump is their vehicle for revenge.
So I think it’s okay to acknowledge their grievances as real. And it’s okay to celebrate aspects of the “alpha-male” trope.
It is not okay to trash all other ways of being male.
And this is perhaps the most powerful way to teach male students that rather than just strive to be whoever they want, even the president someday, perhaps they should strive for even more.
They should strive to be better than the president (well, presidential wannabe as of now). To reject his ludicrous ideas about what winning and losing mean, to reject his nasty personal insults, to reject his bullying and demeaning.
Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore