Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tim Tebow, Donald Trump, and Clickbait Nation

One Nation, Under Trump
Mostly off-topic, but some sports.

So when I started this column, I was watching the tale end of the Eagles-Packers preseason game, which meant the entrance of Jebus Tebow at QB for the Eagles. Tebow has, of course, no business being on an NFL roster, but he gets clicks, and QB3 Matt Barkley does not. Tebow's admirers talk about his versatility (which does not, unfortunately, extend to throwing), his charity work, his intangibles. I see a guy who can not throw a football or make good and fast decisions, and haven't seen much else in the preseason to make me think either of these conditions have changed, or that it will in the future. But again, clicks and jersey sales to very stupid people, and no real harm done, right? It's just preseason.

Well, no. Damage is done by even entertaining the notion. Damage is done by lowering the standards. Damage is done by giving idiots the possibility of hope that they might get what they want, which in this case is an evangelical run-only QB who also, let's be honest about this, would never get even a first look at an NFL roster, let alone this fourth one, if he were black.

Which brings us to where this becomes Not Sports, and the Donald Trump Experience.

There is now, and there has never been, any real merit to the notion that this man should become the President. If it were to happen, it would signify that the nation has become no better than Italy, because there is no difference between Trump and Silvio Berlusconi. It would also show that the deification of the wealthy is now complete, and that the corruption of the media by moneyed elites was now total. Also, well, more.

I understand the desire for simple solutions, digital thinking, yes and no answers. They allow us to move along to the next decision, or to just stop thinking and get to the fun. But at some point, even the simple have to understand that some things in life are hard, complicated, require reading and compromise and nuance and so on. You can't make every decision in life based around a price tag, your gut, or whether it's shiny or easy or sexy. Sometimes, you have to do the hard thing and accept that life is complicated, and that there are people who might be better than you at some stuff, and that stuff might be important.

This is not how we want to see the world.

People like to disregard what hard work, or education, or intelligence, might produce. That's nerdy, or not important, or missing some bigger picture. The idea of doing something for 10,000 hours before you can really feel good about your chances... well, hell, isn't there an app for it? Don't give me all the details, just cut it down to a few bullet points. Can't you make allowances, or a compromise, or grade on a curve, and so on, and so on? Why aren't there more pictures? No one wants to read all that. Etc.

Here's the thing that no one wants to admit... some people who work in government are actually quite good at their jobs. They might have taken those jobs because they were looking to avoid corporate pressures, or because they truly liked helping people without having to worry about a bottom line, or anywhere in between. Just assuming that they are lesser workers then someone who worked in the private sector is a crap generalization, just like, well, nearly all generalizations.

I may not agree with most of the candidates for the Presidency on many things, but I don't deny that most of them have, on some level, proven their worthiness to take a shot at getting the gig in the first place. If you've been a Governor or a Senator, or held a high office, you've shown that you could manage a campaign, get elected, convince people to work for you even without a paycheck, and so on.

Trump has none of that. What he has is an ability to draw eyes like a carnie barker, while being rich, and with the willingness to offer simple solutions to complex problems. Middle-class not doing well? It's not a matter of poor tax policy, technology and world trade issues; we just need to build a wall on the Mexican border, which will magically improve everyone's wages because they stealing jobs. The pace of change in the modern world makes you uncomfortable, what with having to allow marriage equality and LGBTQ tolerance and a rapidly changing racial demographic? Deny citizenship to children and decry "political correctness", so that you don't have to change anything about your worldview. Tired of electing people who don't seem to really change much? Elect someone who has never ran a public sector operation, because he'll fire people on camera and magically change things. Think that other countries aren't doing the right thing? Elect a bellicose bully who will make them. And so on. Magical thinking that the get it done rich guy will solve all issues.

But hey, it's preason / preliminaties, lookit all the funny things that late night comedians get to say about him, no real harm done, right? No; see above.

If the Eagles keep Tebow over Barkley, they are stupid and deserve what they get, but the downside of that is that their fans get it too, and they don't particularly deserve to get thrown in the same bad boat. If the GOP, and later America, elect Trump, they are stupid and get what they deserve, but those who didn't vote for him get the same problem.

And the only reason why anyone would have the conversation in the first place? Clickbait metrics, and the thirst for simple answers -- in this case, page views and television ratings -- to complex questions (who would be the best option to have the job).

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