Though never a big fan of Donald Trump, I find myself becoming more and more thankful for the Trump candidacy — mainly for saving me so much of the time that I would once have had to spend with America’s media. Now, as my eye travels down the scroll of the day’s articles in this or that newspaper, magazine, TV network or website, I increasingly find myself able to check them off, one by one, without reading them. Why? Because I can see at once that they boil down to three words: I hate Trump. Then, to that long list I can add all those ringing the changes on the ancillary hatreds due to anyone, once purportedly respected but now in disgrace for backing Trump, or those congratulating themselves for not doing so — not to mention a mass of other articles on the incompetence of his campaign and the destruction, moral, political or both, that it is wreaking on the Republican party.
Nor is that all. You can also add in the articles which find in completely unrelated stories further reasons for hating Trump. Responding to a series of murders of policemen, for example, The New York Times last week headlined: "After Outbreaks of Violence, Donald Trump Strains to Project Leadership." What is this but I hate Trump by other means? As I have already heard and mentally filed away every conceivable reason for hating Trump, along with a lot of inconceivable ones, and have in most cases already read at least one article from the same author expressing those reasons, I don’t need to bother anymore.
Now, practically all the mainstream media is like The New York Times editorial page: you already know what they’re going to say before you open the paper, or your browser. So why bother? Often, nothing more than the juxtaposition of names is enough to tell you that you don’t need to read something. The TLS headline on the front cover of its July 15, 2016 number read: "Richard Ford on Donald Trump." Yep. That was another one I didn’t have to read — though I gather from the pull-quote which accompanies the headline that it belongs to the I hate Trump sub-genre which we might call: "And I consider him emblematic of the fakery and corruption of the entire American political process." I flatter myself that I could have guessed as much. Creative people and novelists still tend to be as boringly and self-importantly predictable on political subjects as the late Gore Vidal used to be before, poor fellow, he died.
Although I am happy to have my reading load thus lightened, I sometimes wish that at least one or two of the authors of these pieces would surprise me by doing as I have just done and finding a reason to like Mr Trump. None of them ever seems to do so. The nearest you get is likely to be a piece like that of Pamela Constable from The Washington Post’s "Post Everything" blog who writes, in the words of the headline, "I rejected my parents’ WASP values. Now I see we need them more than ever." Golly! That will make you sit up and take notice! But whence comes this gratifying epiphany? We find out in the first sentence. "My parents were the kind of polite conservatives who would have been appalled by this year’s Republican presidential campaign."
Well, there it is. I hate Trump again — but at least his candidacy has given someone a reason to appreciate the non-Trumps of this world. I was even willing to give a try to one Max Lucado, a pastor and author from Texas, who also took to the Post’s "Post Everything" blog to announce that "Trump doesn’t pass the decency test" — meaning, of course, his own, personal decency test, which appears to have been formulated out of nothing more original than old-fashioned good manners. Remember them? Where, I wondered, has this guy been for the last 40 years? That kind of "decency" went out of fashion back in the 1970s and has hardly been anywhere to be found, even in the lagging indicator of our political culture, at least since the unlamented Mitt Romney candidacy of 2012.
Like the rest of the seemingly endless I hate Trump articles, this is old, old news which we can safely ignore as we turn our attention back to Pokémon Go or whatever else floats our boat. Yet you can’t help wondering if Mr Trump hasn’t all along known very well what he was doing by courting this kind of hatred. For in giving way to it as they have, the media have become even more boring than they usually are in election years when they feel at least a little more restrained from displaying their biases. Who bothers to read such stuff now but those who are already confirmed Trump-haters? And even they must grow tired of it after a while. It has been a brilliant strategy to neutralize the media and, with them, the most powerful arm of the elite culture that this dandyish revolutionary is leading his rag-tag army against. It’s almost by itself enough to make one hope he succeeds.