Local Peace Economy

It's Time to Turn Off Trump and Tune In to Your Community

No matter where you live, there is something critically important happening right now that needs your support.

National movement: Rev. William Barber (center) speaks to media at a Moral Monday rally in Albany, New York, in 2015. (Courtesy of North Carolina NAACP)

I am so sick of news. Aren’t you?

I’m sick of Trump’s face on the front page of every newspaper and magazine. I’m sick of turning on the TV and seeing him on every channel. I’m tired of my daily email from the Columbia Journalism Review having something about mainstream media and Donald Trump in the subject line. Every. Single. Day.

Of course, this is a mild exaggeration. But it certainly feels that way, doesn’t it?

That’s because Trump has been playing mainstream media like a great orchestra conductor since before most of the people reporting on him were even born.

Let’s take it back to 1984, when the New York Times published this adoring piece on him. On his marketing abilities, they wrote:

“'Donald Trump is the Michael Jackson of real estate,' says Mr. Fischer. 'We've been dealing with him since he was 16. He was an old trouper at age 25.'

“His success also derives from his marketing skills. 'I want to bring a little showmanship to real estate,' Mr. Trumps says…

“How do you sell a one-bedroom apartment costin[g] as much as a line item in the Department of Defense budget? 'You sell them a fantasy,' Mr. Trump explains.”

The man is, basically, a carney. P.T. Barnum would be in awe. Longtime Village Voice writer and author Wayne Barrett wrote extensively on Trump, going so far as to name his 1991 book Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth.

The problem—one of many, of course—is that Trump is also president of the United States. But he is still acting like a carney.

Do you know how to get a carney to shut up?

You stop going to his show.

That is—seriously—the only way to get rid of him. What happened when “Celebrity Apprentice” received poor ratings? Being careful not to offend Trump by using the “c” word (canceled), NBC simply stopped producing new episodes.

And that’s what needs to happen with this awful season of “Trump White House.”

Give the show poor ratings. Change the damn channel and watch something else.

But don’t stick your head in the sand and pretend everything is hunky-dory.

Consider: There are literally thousands of media options. Do you really need Facebook or CNN or Fox or MSNBC or ABC to tell you what is going on in the world?

Or A1 of the New York Times? The Times doesn’t even cover what’s happening in its own backyard.

No matter where you live, there is something critically important happening right now, in your own community—and it’s probably not happening on A1, or CNN.

It might be a worker’s strike, a garbage incinerator, toxic waste, heavy industry, Amazon, police brutality, undrinkable water, school bullying, mental health issues, homelessness, hungry children, veterans, unconscionable prisons… the list goes on. There is absolutely something happening, right now, in your community, that if you paid attention to it and started to take small actions toward resolving, might actually change your life, and the life of your community, for the better.

You might even feel good, logging off Facebook and getting involved, one-on-one, in your community.

And there’s a lot happening there.

It might even involve the Trump administration, or the EPA or DOJ or ICE. But I guarantee the solution to those problems will not be found by breathlessly watching every tweet, or every so-called break in the never-ending “Russia Scandal!” season one.

After all, the “Russia Scandal!” show isn’t scheduled to end any time soon. With ratings like this, there is no way it’s going to be canceled.

And every moment spent watching “Trump White House” or “Russia Scandal!” is going to guarantee a season two. Worse, it’s going to distract you from being able to understand what’s happening in your own backyard, and taking action on it.

Don’t let Trump, and mainstream media, do that to you or to your community. Change the channel, get involved, and watch what happens—in your own life.

This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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Valerie Vande Panne is an Independent Media Institute writing fellow who contributes to Columbia Journalism Review and Reuters news service, among other outlets. She is the former editor-in-chief of Detroit's alt-weekly, the Metro Times, and the former news editor of High Times magazine. She is the founder of Blackbird Literacy, an organization providing books to residents and literacy programs in Detroit. Connect with her on Twitter @asktheduchess.