Your Interest in Donald Trump

About a month ago, I was complaining to my writing soulmate about the difficulty to get short pieces published. I moaned for a great while and she listened calmly, as she has heard these sorts of plaints before from me. When I finished she said this:

‘Selling any writing is difficult these days. People aren’t reading anymore because of Donald Trump.’

I paused, took a sip (big big gulp) of beer, and processed. After a moment’s reflection, I had a hunch on the effect Donald Trump (a non-reader if ever one existed) could have on the publishing market. I encouraged her to continue.

She explained, ‘the thing is this guy and his administration is such a crazy shit show that people just want to see what happens next.’

‘Nah…he can’t….well that’s just no….terrible….’ I lost my train of thought in the realization that this point was and is hugely accurate in my case. And, according to (as Trump would no doubt nickname ‘the fake and failing’) New Republic Magazine, I am not the only one for whom this is a current state of affairs. Book sales of adult fiction and nonfiction are down, because ‘in a world where reality is stranger than fiction, real books don’t sell.’ The article goes on to point out that when any day can produce three or four major news stories on how Donald Trump is (my words, obviously) gang-fucking democracy and critical thinking, while ruining the USA, who can pay attention to fiction? It’s as if the whole country’s going up in flames, and we can’t stop watching.

At least, I can’t. But neither can others. This is evident is the books that are selling well these days. Books on political science, world history, and dystopian themes. Books on the effects of racism and sexism are way up in sales. James Baldwin. Margaret Atwood. Timothy Snyder. Book clubs have altered their focus from fiction and mystery to themes of tolerance, race, and justice.

This ‘woke’ perspective is no doubt positive in some ways. We live in a day and age when an American president aggressively undermines the press and news sources who hold him accountable. He attacks individual journalists because they disagree with him. He does the same to one of the pillars of the American political system, the justice department, and for the same reason – they don’t agree with him. This man is actively trying to murder the National Endowment for the Arts. So I am not trying to suggest that being informed is a bad thing, of course it’s not. It’s ignoring the Donald Trump shit show that would allow him to do things with no accountability. The negative is that, if you’re like me, he’s ruining your enjoyment of other things.

That day I received a notification on my phone about a Donnie-related news story. It was labelled: ‘Your Interest in Donald Trump.’

And I was guilty as charged.

Before Captain Incapable was sitting behind the Resolute Desk, I used to read a far wider range of stories far more often. I daily checked out Smithsonian, National Geographic, Mental Floss and read on topics ranging from science to archaeology, from language to exploration. I used to read more book reviews, and things that made me laugh, informed me, and educated me.

However, each morning, by which time Trump has had about 6 hours to further fuck up the world and make a mockery of the American political system, I open my tablet and instantly look for stories on Trump. Then I look for more stories. And then, depending on what I have read, I either decorate my flat with a quilt of profanity, look up at the ceiling and say, ‘you have got to be fucking kidding me, or I say a prayer to a deity named Robert Mueller.

Something had to change.

In my obsession with the Trump show, I am the loser. And you might be too. If you have a working brain then very little he does or says makes you feel positive. You are often left depressed, demoralized, and astounded by his stupidity and ineptness. Moreover, you are spending time paying attention to Trump while not spending time reading things you enjoy. Imagine that, exchanging a James Clavell novel for Donald Trump. Ugh. But the worst bit of all is that we’re giving him exactly what he wants – attention. Whether this attention is negative or positive is immaterial to him. If you love him, he loves it; if you hate him, he loves it.

Moreover, there seems to be no calm-headed middle land here. In the past world of partisan politics a zone of reasonable and rational discussion could usually be made between those on the left and right. There could be civil discourse. People might not agree but could still understand the other side’s point (I think drugs should be legal, but I can understand why someone wouldn’t). However, in my experience this is not so with Trump. Trump is a gleefully divisive character and the acrimony on both sides of the fight is seething and gangrenous.

A good friend of mine said that he hates the current political discussion because ‘nobody cares about the truth anymore’ and ‘people aren’t nice or respectful.’ This is why he pulled out and does not partake. Today, my Facebook feed featured four political posts. The tone in each comment section had become bitter and spitting by the third comment. You have no doubt noticed similar trends, no matter which side you support. It’s all nazis and libtards, snowflakes and racists.

It’s not getting us anywhere. I will not try to sell you ‘let’s all get along,’ because I think that Donald Trump is to that notion what vodka is to fire. On purpose. Additionally, I would never suggest that you stop resisting, stop caring, or stop being informed. These things will lead to change.

What I am saying is rather than letting Trump ruin your day, let them ruin 30 minutes of each day. Read about him, write about him, find out what he’s really up to, keep informed, and then get back at him by spending the rest of your day doing what you want to do, learning what you want to learn, talking to the people you want to talk to, and reading what you want to read. Because, my friends, these things also lead to change.

Oh, and buy a book called Senseless. It’s about a guy loses all of his senses. There’s dystopia in there somewhere, and even if not, being senseless for 200 pages wouldn’t be so bad in this idiocracy.

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