Are Americans getting tired of looking to tinsel-town for political advice? Maybe so.
For many years now, the calls for the right to embrace and engage with pop culture have been repeated. The premise is that culture drives politics, and when one looks at the past several years, that theory does hold some water. Times change rapidly, and after a star-studded final push by Hillary Clinton failed, it isn’t wrong to think that pop culture’s influence on American politics is waning at least a little.
While it’s true that we are ushering reality television star into the White House, he didn’t run on that pedigree. Unlike other stars who prance out their special interest political beliefs to their fans, the issues that Trump used to turn this election were far closer to home for many Americans. Beyond the personality politicking, there was a war between right and left populism, and the latter simply couldn’t defeat the former.
Now, the Washington Post is being a little kind by simply saying that the left is suffering from a power outage in DC, but the truth is that the American people delivered a mandate against an idealistic agenda. The people apparently want to save themselves and their livelihoods before they try to save the planet.
That is just one of many issues that may be relegated to just debate without action over the next several years. No matter what, people on the far ends of the spectrum – both left and right – may eventually realize that more than just negating the left version’s of populism, the people in the middle are tiring of the radicalism on both sides. Beyond the objectionable comments and actions, Trump really did sell the idea of rebuilding America, literally through infrastructure projects and removing governmental barriers to business growth. While the over the top rhetoric resonated with some parts of the radical right, the end of governmental regulations impeding job creation hit the heart of the pragmatic middle.
Around here, we try to remain outside of the echo chambers on both sides of the aisle, and this is why. Centrist America has been ignored for too long, but that’s about to change. As the analysts and pundits slowly wade their way through the results of the election, hopefully they will reach the conclusion that is obvious to those who made any real attempt to stop listening to the radicals on both sides. Yes, it is true that most Americans can find at least a few things that they agree with in one echo chamber or the other, but it truly is a vocal minority on the fringes that has been driving the political cycles for most of this century.
Trump is an unknown quantity, and it’s likely that the majority of the people who voted for him knew that. While he pandered to the radical right to get in office, the fact is that he hasn’t held onto any political beliefs unless they have benefited him. He was left before he was right. He was against the war in Iraq before he was for it (and then against it again.) Planned Parenthood enjoyed his financial support before he decided that abortion might need to be made into a criminal offense. Simply put, Trump is all over the political map, and it’s likely that diligent researchers could find him standing on opposite sides of just about any issue, if they dig deep enough.
The only constant has been the promise to treat our government like a business, at least try to cut the fat, and most importantly, stop government from holding back business and job growth. It was the right message at the right time, because the left has been ignoring the unintended consequences of their programs and policies for close to eight years now.
It took an entertainer to recognize that the American people were getting tired of being entertained by politicians. It’s true, some might have voted for Trump because he was entertaining to them. But, those people also probably expect him to cause a significant change in the direction we’re going as a nation. That certainly isn’t about entertainment.
Pop culture probably will always influence politics at least a little, but if this election is any indication, it’s likely to be limited to increasing public interest in various issues as opposed to political candidates. As for political figures, maybe they need to think about whether or not they really want to use pop culture icons to sell them to voters. It might have worked before, but it may not be very useful going forward.