There’s no denying that, in general, politics is not exactly a Stephen King thriller for the average observer. Even the most enthusiastic political science student will find at least some aspect of the inner-workings of our American political machine that makes them want to curl up on their bed and half-heartedly scroll through their Twitter feed. I used to dread when my parents would put on C-SPAN to catch a Senate hearing I cared nothing about, leaving me to listen to the droning of old men over the sound of my PSP. Now, all I wish is that I could start dozing off like that again. Because, if there is one thing the Trump administration has reminded me of over the past six months, it’s that our government is there to be functional, not entertaining. And keeping up with it when it is entertaining is exhausting.
Before now, knowing what the latest healthcare bill proposed includes or who has been appointed to some government office felt like extra credit done to impress a teacher or try to shut down that loud-mouthed uncle at Thanksgiving. The government has always seemed like a machine, with parts updated over time and grease added to the cogs by each new administration to keep it running. Small changes in structure or added functions might pop up, and in those cases the people who are deeply invested in it might put up a fuss, but overall we could count on the machine functioning as it was supposed to.
However, under President Trump, all of that security has been thrown out the window. It seems as if our country has elected someone more suited for reality television than actual leadership. He vacillates back and forth in his positions on virtually every topic to appeal to whatever audience he has at the moment, treating the office as a win in a popularity contest instead of an actual job. He has been given the controls to a machine he has never used, been thrown the instruction manual and refused to even read it and now we have live with the consequences.
It feels like the whole administration is an elaborate prank. He’s surrounding himself with those perfectly unsuited for the positions they have been placed in, in an almost cartoonish way. A politician previously against the Environmental Protection Agency was assigned to lead it and Sean Spicer seems like he was designed by Saturday Night Live. And Trump himself, with his tweets and spur-of-the-moment bomb drops (both literal and figurative) implants the White House with the kind of drama that would make for good ratings, but leaves me wondering how we will make it through the year.
Now when I wake up, the first thing I do is check the news. When I see a news alert on my phone with politics in the title, I make sure to read it. Because chances are if I don’t, I will miss some drastic change or another big statement by the president that gets the media buzzing and the protesters dusting off their picket signs. It’s also self-preservation. I have to make sure that if I walk into a mall and speak Spanish on the phone, a giant hook won’t appear to drag me to Mexico while tiny orange hands steal my wallet to pay for a wall. These are the sorts of things we have to worry about now, not just how the system is functioning like we did before, but that it’s functioning at all.
While this crazy show has definitely kept us all on our toes and gotten more of our population involved in politics than they have been in a long time, it makes me miss the times when we had the luxury of being able to ignore it if we wanted to. As college students, we already have a lot of things to worry about, so I would gladly take my eyes glazing over during the next CNN report if it means being able to at least moderately trust in the people elected to lead our country.
Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons