I’ve already given you my opinion of the second string Republican presidential candidates— the ones who might have a chance at the nomination if Donald Trump was abducted by aliens or fell into a volcano. I wasn’t a fan.
I mentioned that I was especially leery of Vivek Ramaswamy, who seemed like a bootleg Trump right down to his stilted hand gestures.
He is the obligatory candidate who blurts out nonsense nobody believes in order to seem like a man of the people. Of course, Ramaswamy was all over the serious political news shows this Sunday, spouting more drivel. I wasn’t surprised that he was in the debate; I wouldn’t be surprised to see him interviewed on the Fox News Channel or some other sordid place. But these were serious political news shows. There’s no reason he should have been invited. He’s not the frontrunner, Trump is. He’s not in second place; that would be Ron DeSantis of the gritted teeth, for now. He’s not going to be president barring a severe upset (which could happen). But they had him on anyway. Chuck Todd interviewed him. Dana Bash got in a spat with him. Yes, they were trying to refute what he said, but I don’t know why they had him on to say it.
It’s not lost on me that the media is making the same choice they did when Donald Trump was running in 2015: they showcase the funny man who spouts nutty things instead of rolling their eyes and moving on.
They interview him for ratings and fun sound bites instead of briefly mentioning him and then interviewing serious candidates. I know that serious candidates are few and far between these days, but this is one of the ways we got where we are. It wasn’t necessary, it was a choice. One of the reasons our politics resemble a carnival sideshow, is that the media has people like this on to make noise.
You actually don’t have to give the crackpots a platform. And when I say “crackpots,” I don’t mean people with actual mental illnesses. Mentally ill people can make good presidents. Lincoln had depression and anxiety. By “crackpots” I just mean uninformed and unserious people who spout off unhinged and dangerous things to get attention. Most everyone from grammar school teachers to grumpy college professors know you don’t give those people what they want; you briefly shut them down, and then go back to talking to people who actually want to contribute. Crackpots shouldn’t be taking up oxygen on the political news shows. They can get a nutty podcast or an EWTN program.
My apologies if I seem on edge. I gained my reputation, insofar as I have one, in 2016 as the Catholic blogger who begged everyone not to vote for Donald Trump as we careened toward November. I kept calling him out all through his term. I enjoyed the lull when he was on the news far less often. Now, here we go again, and there are two of him. I don’t like it.
The presidency of the United States is not a reality television program.
It’s a serious, extremely difficult, grown-up job which requires a great deal of savvy and expertise in several different complicated fields. When the president is stupid, bad things happen. We declare war on the wrong country. We exacerbate the Great Depression. We lose more people to a global pandemic than any other country. These are not small matters. And when the stupidest presidential candidates are given air time because they’re fun to watch, people vote for them.
We don’t need the stress of four more years with a cruel, volatile doofus who says unwise things.
The media needs to do their part and stop inviting crackpots like Ramaswamy on their programming.
Life is hard enough as it is.
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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