Thursday, May 24 , 2018, 2:48 pm | Overcast 61º


Randy Alcorn: Eclipsing the Tedious News Was Long Overdue, Even If It Only Lasted Minutes

Last week’s total solar eclipse was described as awesome, even life changing, by many of the millions of Americans who were transfixed by it. I didn’t join my friends and family who traveled to the Northwest to view “totality” with its accompanying glorious 360-degree sunsets.

I long ago developed TTSD, traumatic traffic stress disorder. I knew that the eclipse locations up north would be jam-packed. And they were. Car trips ordinarily taking four hours took 10. One friend reported that it took more than three hours to creep less than 50 miles. Gawd, the agony!

Constipated traffic triggers a form of temporary insanity in me — something like turning into the enraged Hulk. So, I stayed home and watched the total eclipse on TV — and probably saved someone’s life.

Watching the coverage of this celestial event, I realized its wonderful side benefit. For one precious day, the media’s main focus was not on the antics of President Donald Trump. Do you ever wonder what the leading news coverage would be if Trump hadn’t been elected president? Apparently, it requires a rare, spectacular, cosmic event to eclipse him and peevish politics.

But, eclipses are rare and quickly over. The thought that there is likely another 38 months of all-Trump/all-the-time is depressing. A circus is supposed to be a passing diversion, not an enduring, nearly inescapable, diurnal display of clownery, hucksterism, lumbering elephants, stubborn donkeys, and a curiously coiffured ring master incessantly barking like an undisciplined dog. With Trump as president, the big top never comes down.

It makes one long for more big cosmic distractions, maybe a large asteroid hurtling toward Earth. That would put things into proper perspective — or not, given the nation’s fractiously divisive politics.

Trump would disdainfully dismiss the asteroid as fake news, while climate-change deniers would call it another hoax perpetrated by conspiratorial scientists in the pay of George Soros.

Evangelicals would sanctimoniously pronounce it as God’s wrath for abortion and separation of church and state, but anxiously wonder if they had missed the rapture. Environmentalists would try to save some fish by spilling out all the nations’ dams.

Liberals would concoct politically correct language to describe the impending global extinction event — maybe calling it “evolution reset.” Democrats would raise taxes, because they really don’t know what else to do. Republicans would cut taxes, because they really don’t know what else to do. Libertarians would blame it all on government and try to find a free-market solution.

Seriously, do we need a cosmic cataclysm to divert attention from the asinine circus that has dominated the news, or do we simply need to stop giving it so much media coverage?

Much of the media, including the left leaning and the right leaning, are obsessed with the unusual — as in abnormal — Trump presidency.

Trump’s improbable, shocking election has intensified the nation’s existing ideological division and emboldened those teetering at the far edges of political sanity where alternate facts create alternate realities. It has unleashed the rabid dogs of delusion, frothing with hatred and looking for scapegoats to blame for their economic disaffection and diminished social status.

The opposing reaction from zealous anti-fascist crusaders has made matters worse, as seen with such incidents as the violence and wanton destruction in Berkeley and the deadly confrontation between opposing demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va.

Some Americans are freaking out over all the vitriolic political discord, violence and media hype about states seceding from the union, a second civil war, and Nazis or Bolsheviks taking over the country.

Come on everbody, unlax.

The vast majority of Americans are not in the thrall of the immutable ideologies that underlie the acerbic divisive politics afflicting the nation. They are not looking to grab cudgels and take to the streets. Those making all the noise and creating all the commotion are a tiny fraction of the population, but are getting way too much attention — and reaction.

Such attention encourages and incites those looking for publicity and a national audience.

Small groups of radicals can count on their demonstrations getting extensive media coverage, especially if there is violence or the threat of violence. Counter demonstrators showing up facilitate that possibility.

I’m not advocating that news coverage of this stuff be ignored, although I do know some very happy people who don’t own TVs, read newspapers or consult social media. Ignorance may be bliss, but it is a dangerous condition for a democracy.

We, and the responsible media, should keep things in proper perspective and not dwell on the antics and demands of the few, but rather on the will of the many and the best interests of the nation. What do most of us want? What is the general welfare and what are the issues that confront the entire nation? What are the possible solutions?

The vast majority of Americans are rational, political independents looking for reason. They should understand that the issues confronting this nation are not going to be addressed successfully by following any one ideological formula or any blowhard demagogue.

Solutions can come from anywhere and should not have to comply with a particular doctrine in order to be considered.

Rational Americans know — or now have learned — that regardless of how frustrated and disgusted they are with dysfunctional, corrupt politics, electing an intellectually, emotionally and ethically unfit person to the presidency is not a remedy. If you throw a monkey wrench into the machinery, you better be damn sure there is something better ready to replace it.

America needs a party of reason, or in lieu of that, reasonable duopoly candidates who are not shackled to petrified ideology, obediently loyal to a political party or venally beholden to special interests.

An intriguing development is that Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, are considering running together on the same ticket for president and vice president. I will temper my skepticism with commendation for their noble effort, but wonder, will they flip a coin to see who gets the top billing?

Meanwhile, I look forward to the next total solar eclipse — and national election.

— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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