There are those of us who are drawn to the political and social events of these trying times like moths to a flame (blow torch). I am a news junkie. And while I question the soundness of my mind and suspect my spiritual side is slightly skewed for indulging in hours of broadcast and print news, I simply must follow this debacle. I cannot understand the “see/hear no evil” reticence of so many. Yes, I over-watch it, which perhaps makes me some sort of ghoul. Yet I would never gawk at a train wreck, except, as one friend put it, “We are all on this train.” So, I guess it makes sense to “stay tuned” to the daily mishaps, mistakes, and malfeasance of this administration.
I totally get that the world today is rushing towards madness at an alarming rate, and it can be painful to glue oneself to the news too much. So, take a deep breath and stay within your personal comfort zone. But never back away or back down from what is happening—it is serious and requires your attention. Why? Because you have the power to influence, if only on a local level, the course our city and our state will take. If you are concerned about the madcap antics of Trump and the extreme right turn he is attempting to drive our country along, then we must stay actively informed and interested.
If you are a Trump supporter still and have stayed with me this long into my commentary, then allow me to thank you and to commend you on being a voter. Yes, I mean it, thanks for voting. Do I hope you will reconsider Trump and his cronies next election? You betcha. But I believe that voting is one of the most fundamental methods of being involved in our community and our nation (a nation which affects the entire world). And the freedom to choose your candidate is part of it. So, it is with due respect that I ask you to hear me out and keep your eyes on all reasonable news sources. Same goes for my fellow Democrats and progressives. If you don’t watch Fox News, then how can you begin to understand the other side (right or wrong)?
There is an abundance of worthy news outlets, ranging from television, internet, and radio, to print newspapers and magazines. The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Politico, BBC, NPR, and PBS are a few examples of respectable news sources. While this column is primarily about staying informed and sane regarding our nation’s reality show “brought to you via Twitter,” we must never lose sight of our local state-of-affairs. Here are some of my go-tos for local coverage: The Times Picayune, despite its loss of many respected staffers (when it downsized) and visual quality (when outsourced to Mobile, Alabama, for printing), it still brings incisive political commentary to its pages with high-caliber writers. And, of course, they carry the major news outlets’ articles (NYT, etc.). The Advocate has also proven to be well worth the read. Add this to Gambit as a source of well-researched and -written news commentaries and features.
If you prefer a televised view of our real-life house of cards as it unfolds daily (hourly), then you will find BREAKING NEWS constantly on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. I do take Fox in small dosages simply to see how the Trump supporters are feeling and digesting the actions of such an unstable president. I trust/hope his followers search for facts beyond the “alternative” ones. Personally, I find that Fox has an agenda to promote far-right ideologies, but with that said, I weigh with more than a grain of salt the news from MSNBC. This cable news channel sings loud and clear to my choir, and I tune ‘em in nightly.
However, I need more grounded coverage and less opinion commentary to feel like I have the full story on a political issue. So, I go to PBS. Sure, PBS is in sync with a liberal vibe, but they always report with evenness, keeping it professional and respectful. Friday night is my date night with PBS, beginning with the NewsHour, followed by our local WYES with Informed Sources (local politics) and Steppin’ Out for a culinary and entertainment break. Then, still on channel 12, Washington Week in Review, and capping it all off is Charlie Rose: The Week. This half-hour PBS show is well-paced and ranges from hard-hitting news to interviews with directors and authors, and finishes up with “The Week Ahead,” which highlights events—some obscure—with one for each day of the week. Sunday mornings offer several great political shows, but alas, I am at work then.
Navigating this strange political world we live in now is frustrating, fascinating, and fast-paced. These are times that polarize more than the members of Congress. Democrats and Republicans are too often unable to reach across the aisle—just as friends and families often can’t reach across the living room. You can stand up for your views without insulting another. Bite your tongue until it bleeds. Count to 10, take a break. Debate rather than argue, and this means staying on point, conceding when valid points are made, and commiserating when frustrations surface. Counter only with facts and resist the urge to be smug. We know that Trump is a danger to our democracy, but that doesn’t mean our best friends didn’t vote with all their hearts for what they perceived to be a necessary change. Do I agree with them? No. Do I want and need them in my life? Yes. We are all facing unstable times to come. So hold tight to your values and even tighter to your nearest and dearest, even when you disagree.