America, America. America!

Why is no one drawing the straight line from right-wing talk shows to Donald J. Trump, Republican candidate for President of the United States? Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Coulter, Hannity, Palin, Beck… Donald Trump would still be a third-rate real estate developer without the influence of these men and women on the culture of our country over the last 30 years.

Of course there are other factors. “Collateral damage” of our middle class, caused by both globalization and automation, is a major contributor. We should have provided opportunity for their children, though the rise of TV and video games, then cell phones, is a giant cultural / psychological / biological experiment that may have made this too difficult.

Collective cowardice is another, in that no one was willing to stand up and say the 1950s throughout about the year 2000 was a unique period of prosperity for the United States, that we failed to invest in the future. The wealth of this period also came with challenges that were poorly met, similar to the effects on the children of very successful people.

But Biology is also at work here. Fear is a greater motivator than hope, and those who manipulate fear have a greater chance of gaining influence.

The rise of the internet, where half-baked or completely false information is gobbled by a public that chooses not to know the difference between ranting and discussion, feelings and analysis, simple opinion and complex evaluation, also contributes.

But the panderers listed above use all this to build ratings, and their own wealth. They sell senseless outrage, the fear of loss, and aim snide disrespect at those of another political persuasion. They are cynically divisive, and may have ruined underpinnings of our democracy by demeaning the rule of law, attempting to delegitimizing our president and the election process

This election is not about the Supreme Court. It’s not about Benghazi. It’s not about the emails. It’s not even about the horror of electing a man as vile as any in the public arena to the most important post in America. It’s about what has happened to America, the America of Reagan, if you will, or of the Kennedy’s if you prefer.

Talk show hosts will own any unpleasant aftermath when their candidate, Donald J. Trump, loses the election because he is utterly and completely unqualified to be considered a decent man, let alone president of the United States.

He is, however, a perfect distillation of all that talk show hosts say and all that they stand for. He is their man, their candidate, their caricature.

Yes, the hosts above have freedom of speech. They have freedom of the press. But they are screaming “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. They need to own the consequences. The rest of us know what they have done, and should hold them accountable.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

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About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon

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