Getting What We’ve Paid For

I don’t generally comment on presidential elections; I had my political phase a few years ago and now I’m content to spend my time worrying about things that I’m more passionate about, such as education. That doesn’t mean that I don’t pay attention. I follow news stories and generally know what is going on, but I don’t obsess about it. This stage of the election cycle is the part that I really try to stay away from. I call it “The Circus,” when all of the clowns that feel that they are uniquely qualified to be the President of the United States come out of the woodwork and begin shouting at each other and generally doing anything they can to discredit each other. If you can’t tell, I’m not a big fan of this part of the process. While I recognize my need to know who the clowns are and what they bring to the table, I’m not going to obsess over their antics from that point on.

One clown that I have been looking at a little more closely is Donald Trump, but not for the reasons that you would think. I am fascinated by the fact that so many Americans view him as a viable candidate. Now, don’t read more into this than I’m saying; I’m not saying that he isn’t a viable candidate. I’m completely neutral on all of the candidates right now because it is still early in this race. But this Donald Trump phenomenon has my attention because it is different. This man captured the attention of the American people. He’s popular. And I can’t help but think that this system that we have been paying into is finally showing its real fruit. Yes, I will tell you what I mean by that.

Look at our education system. Children are in a system that rarely teaches them to think for themselves or problem-solve their way through a lesson. Worksheets upon worksheets make our children good at doing one thing: worksheets. Schools don’t teach children how to be creative because most teachers are looking for one thing: the right answer. I would argue that some of the most successful people in this day and age are people who have dropped out of school and created something. Look around and tell me I’m wrong.

Schools do teach children some things that aren’t academic, however. They teach children who the cool kids are, how to dress to be one, how to talk to be one, and what to watch to be one. You aren’t cool unless you know what happened on the hottest new show on television and can wear the clothes and have the hair that the girls and guys have on those shows. And Donald Trump just happens to have starred in one of those hot shows. He got the reputation for being tough and not putting up with any crap. I’m sure he probably is that way in real life; you can’t be as successful as Trump is by putting up with anything. But life seems to be mimicking a reality television show at this point, with everyone rooting for the star. And that is why the Donald Trump candidacy is so fascinating to me. Trump is treating other candidates and even former candidates as if they are in the boardroom, calling them out for things that (to me) don’t even matter when it comes to a presidential election – such as whether or not John McCain is a war hero. And the public is eating it up, just like they were when he was on reality TV. To me, it feels like reality TV has met real life.