One of the things that very much doesn’t matter, and I can’t stress this enough, is Donald Trump’s opinion on anything.
After five years of being a windbag who dominated the press, he has been silenced. His last messages were “Go down to Congress and tell them…” followed by “We love you; you’re special; go home.” He is now off Twitter, off Facebook, and if Parler were still functioning— but of course it’s not.
I’m not saying this to gloat; for me, this is no personal triumph, and I take no joy in it. It’s merely a phenomenon to be observed: After years of being fed as much rope as practicable, he’s now been impeached in the House for inciting a riot, ending but days in advance the fading influence of a lame duck who never got on well with Congress in any case. He has now been de-platformed; his avenues for reaching the public are now limited to a podium in the Rose Garden, from which he’d need to shout very loudly indeed in order to be heard by anyone.
The methods used to remove his voice are, in a word, unfortunate. In an ideal world, the internet would be a freely accessible public forum, a place for the open exchange of ideas. It has become increasingly evident that we don’t live in an ideal world; still, that corporate censorship is now a concept we applaud and embrace makes it no less censorship regardless of its undeniable legality. I mean, sure, I’m thrilled that Trump finally stopped Tweeting — but long-term, do we truly want our ability to communicate to be limited by what the boardrooms of Corporate America think is acceptable speech? Is that the future we want? Our political thought is to be subject to the approval of Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg?
While we’re at it: The fact that an independent app like Parler could also be de-platformed by a consensus among web hosters is also more than a little worrisome — and for two opposing reasons, both nevertheless valid. It’s legitimately terrifying that internet service is monopolized to such an extent that a handful of executives can, overnight and at whim, remove applications they disapprove of politically. On the other hand, the inevitable response will be self-hosting, which means that next week there will be no restrictions on Parler’s content that its management doesn’t choose to have — and if it isn’t Parler, it’ll be Parler’s heir. Extreme action is rarely beneficial.
Yes, it’s true that there’s a legitimate concern about more demonstrations as Inauguration Day approaches. We don’t want more riots, and so it’s convenient for us that the app being used for coordination by many of those likely to attend has been eliminated. And yet, when — not if — the same happens during the next nationally coordinated BLM march (presently scheduled just before the midterm elections; anyone other than me think the leadership should be known as “Black Votes Matter”? -Editor) because our corporate overlords are afraid of the nightly after-dark unleashing of the crazies, will we be just as happy then?
…Well, yes; yes we will be, and that’s the trouble. The comfortable among us who are always content and never leave our living rooms will suffer no inconvenience. They won’t even notice. And isn’t that the point of holding mass demonstrations, that nobody will ever be inconvenienced and production inefficiency won’t result? We’ll just generate some useful headlines so there’s movement on the futures exchange and make a bit of profit on the week. Oh, was someone discussing societal reform? Fascinating; I shall have to tell the gang at Mah Jongg!
And now we culminate the moral victory over Donald Trump by impeaching him — arguably the least meaningful, least relevant political action in what insiders are already predicting will be a monumentally ineffective presidency. Once he’s safely out of office, we’ll spend a month of the Senate’s time during the first hundred days of Biden’s time in office — that time which traditionally sets his agenda — debating the value of a moot point. Sure, we can make sure Trump never again runs for president, and that’s useful — except the voters, ever fickle, will never flock to support a known loser, and certainly not a noticeably failing octogenarian loser.
Bear in mind, I have no particular moral or ethical objection to raise to impeachment. Trump’s words on Riot Day were ill-considered, intemperate, and further inflamed an angry crowd, to the point where a couple of thousand of the most incensed stormed the fence around the Capital and the inevitable crazies that always follow (or lead!) social disorder broke in and crapped on the marble. Everything about what followed was predictable, right down to the headline “Florida Man Lists Stolen Podium On EBay”.
So, sure, punish the man all you want; I don’t care. The only thing that bugs me is, you could actually be using the time to accomplish meaningful societal change, and instead you’re expending valuable political capitol on an act of petty personal revenge. Granted, you’d be wasting it on other meaningless phantasms — perhaps the perennially nonexistent “common sense gun control”, as though common sense solutions hadn’t been shown to fail long ago. Or maybe we can revitalize the War On Drugs — always a vote-getter, never even remotely effective; it’s the perfect windmill to tilt at!
The general public has become aware that there is no new normal coming for the simple reason that normal never was; as a nation we’re finally ready to remove capitalism from healthcare, to reform Medicare and insurance, to consider U.B.I. and overturning Citizens United with well-crafted legislation. And instead, and predictable as Florida Man, we’re going to be treated to weeks and weeks of political circuses — and, if we’re very good and oh-so lucky, maybe even some free bread.
It is, after all, the very least they can do.
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