Michael Moore recently came up with a surefire way to win back the White House in 2020 for the Democrats. His plan: to nominate Oprah Winfrey - or Tom Hanks. OK, laugh. But muffle the yuks for a sec as we review what just happened.
We elected a celebrity for our highest office (admittedly, next to towering Oprah and Tom, a "tiny" fake celebrity, a crass swaggering reality show pomp-meister) but nonetheless a famous personage.
As a feminist, Democrat, shattered supporter of Hillary, I share in the nationwide disbelief at what went shockingly wrong for Dems in this election. The massive fake-out of Big Data and its poll-swami, Nate Silver - caused by (you pick!) millennials not voting (or not voting blue), whites and others (including white women) voting red in large numbers, third party spoilers, stay-homes, a disenfranchised working class, J. Edgar meddler James Comey (coming and going), voter suppression, xenophobia, nativism - the funhouse mirror of the Electoral College, all spiked with red-hot misogyny, dropkicking the Dems to the foot of Trump Tower. (Despite the news flash that Hillary is winning the popular vote by over a million, by recent count.)
All the obvious reasons why Trump should not have been elected president (racism, sexism, climate change denial, anti-immigration, staggering ignorance, world's ugliest hairstyle) have managed to pump up that policy-less politics embraced by fans of his faux-wealth and faux promises: his "brand."
Not hard to see that a major factor in the election of Trump was Kardashian-ism: the rise of the American brainless-energy fame bot. In a country vastly more entertained than informed, the absence of thought or reflection seems innocuous enough in Kim or Khloe, but dangerous in the combover crowning of a Donald. Both The D and the K's come up empty intellectually, but one of them is now the leader of the free world - yet remains as vacant as a ventriloquist's dummy mouthing the projected voices of the Alt-Right, of fundamentalism, of fascist demagoguery -applauded by roaring crowds in a bitterly-divided country.
It's possible to imagine that if Oprah were elected, the executive branch would morph into the figurehead corner of government - where the President might provide America with (say) several "ah ha!" moments - but real governance would fall to either a qualified V.P. - or entirely to the legislative branch. A version of what we're looking at now with Trump?
So Michael Moore is not kidding. Why not campaign early and often for a "good" celeb next in line for the White House - one who funds girls' schools in Africa instead of thundering on about building a border wall and deporting people; who encourages and rewards the reading of books instead of relying (with a guppy-like attention span) on "shows" and "talk" for political instruction and never opens a book - a celeb who supports the rights of women and stands against sexual assault as opposed to someone who stands "for" sexual bullying and treats women as prey or discards.
In present-day America, it is not considered "elitist" to offer celebs the reins of government. Neither is it considered elitist to cruise the clouds in a big gold monogrammed jet or to refuse to pay any taxes or to rip off laborers hired then stiffed after they've fulfilled their contracts in good faith. Rather it's somehow considered elitist to support education. Or to say that "information" is not knowledge. It is considered elitist not to feel "mea culpa" sympathy for the "white" working class, and its manipulated angers, when people of color, particularly women of color, are the majority of the working class.
When Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousefzai was shot (a teen on a school bus) by an Isis operative bent on killing young girls who sought an education, she considered fighting back violently, but decided (if she lived) to resist ignorance and hate "with books," with knowledge. She did not talk about using social media to "terror-shame" her attackers - or promote herself as a heroine.
Neither did my mother, who died recently, at ninety-nine - born on a farm in North Dakota in 1916 (before women could vote) ever believe anything but that America was a true democratic republic. She grew up in an America when poor people, who knew nothing of brands (except maybe in the cattle barn) were assured that anyone could enter a new promising world through reading. Education was available to all, not priced out of touch except for the few who could afford it - and eloquence, mastery of thought and empathy were the goals of learning. Each American had the opportunity to join a public well-educated "elite" supported by an egalitarian ideal that was real.
If both public and private education have failed America in many ways, yet still remain our best chance to keep democracy alive; if social media both binds and blinds us, with its hopeful group solipsism on one hand and attack trolls on the other -- it may somehow still be possible to rescue an informed future for all, both from and by our national obsession with celebrity.
So set the clock. Seriously. If we're still here. Which depends, perhaps, on that other sinister, shirtless "celebrity", (who used hacking and social media to go after Hillary against his BFF, Trump) - Vladimir. In this age of hidden agendas and deep web promotion - the voice of Vladimir the Ventriloquist comes out of Trump's mouth. Which maybe makes the Russian our "real" President? If we can forget that Hillary won that silly tradition called the "voice of the people", the popular vote?
In the meantime, call Oprah! (And ignore Kanye, please, who has come out in support of Trump. Maybe he'll run against Oprah in 2020. When we'll swim to our voting booths then? (Climate change deniers - got your fins & goggles ready? Tweet that.)