Not Me, Not Me
It has been some time since I thought about them, but the image of scurrying cockroaches came to mind today.
I imagined the classic scene of turning on the kitchen light only to see them darting about and running for cover.
But this image was more vivid. It had sound. The cockroaches were yelling at each other. They were all saying the same thing: “not me, not me.”
The cause of all the scurrying and “not me” shouting – basically, the equivalent of turning on the kitchen light — was the blaming and finger pointing in response to the question: “what caused Donald Trump and whose fault is he?”
President Obama laments “the divisive and vulgar state of American politics,” but sends White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, to face the press corps at 12:30 each day and play the role of Partisan of the United States or President of the Democratic Party. Though he is rarely vulgar, he is nearly always divisive.
To be fair, Earnest definitely thinks that is his job, and he is probably neither better nor worse than his predecessor, Jay Carney, who did the same thing.
In the 63 years since the beginning of the Eisenhower administration, there have been two-dozen White House Press Secretaries (11Rs and 13 Ds), and maybe they have all done the same overtly partisan opponent bashing but, if they have, they must take their places among the scurrying, not-me-shouting cockroaches that have contributed to where we are.
It’s not just the spokespeople. It is their bosses too. The elected officials we see and hear spend far more time fueling up the base than doing their jobs. Ladies and gentlemen, start your scurrying.
The pendulum that swings between politics (getting the job and having the power) and governing (doing the job) has swung too far, leaving us with four viable presidential candidates whom many people hate (a majority of people in some cases) and one non-viable candidate who might be able to do the job reasonably well if anyone cared.
The two political parties fight for their lives but often not against each other. They are fighting with donors, PACs, nonprofits and similar groups – seemingly on the same side – for money and power. All are scurrying and shouting “not me.”
A veteran political industry friend has helped me to identify 35 job titles from pollster to opposition researcher, all of whom are required in a successful campaign. (I am pretty sure we have yet to identify them all.) As their efforts escalate, they too contribute to the rage and the rise of Donald Trump.
Blame the media? Spare me; but not because the media deserves no blame; rather because the media has been blamed so often. Of course newspapers, television and especially radio deserve to share in the blame because they make more money off the likes of Trump and Sanders than off the likes of Kasich. Fuel up the rage? Of course they do.
And don’t forget us: all of the voters who think ourselves victims of anything from high taxes to immigration or trade. We contribute too. We far prefer the voice that says “you are oppressed, stand with me, I am fighting for you” to the voice that says, “pull up your socks and get on with it.”
What caused Donald Trump and whose fault is he?
We all did.
I suppose the cockroaches will keep scurrying. Just stop shouting “not me, not me.”