FIRE, FURY & THE DANGER OF ZERO SUM POLITICS

Photo Credits:Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 

“Media is personal.It is a series of blood scores .The media in its often collective mind decides who is going to rise and who is going to fall,who lives and who dies.If you stay around long enough in the media eye,your fate,like that of a banana republic despot ,is often an unkind one -a law Hilary Clinton was not able to circumvent.The media has the last word.”

-Michael Wolff

This post should have been  a book review.

When I started reading this book it was to get insight into the Trump Presidency and to get all the juicy details about exactly what could be happening on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,Washington DC,like everyone else I was curious to get into the inner sanctums of the Trump White House.Midway through the book I realized the book was not about that,it was a book about what American politics had become,the politics of self interest.Michael Wolff indeed  had given us a peek into the  Trump White House ,yet if he had changed the characters and location of  this story ,it could be any Presidency somewhere in the world.

It was a revelation of the  world political stage as it is right now,  the role of the media and  our role ,the not so helpless and hapless  minions of  a system we have been caught up in-a zero sum political game of thrones.

In all the discussions I watched on CNN of what was termed as an explosive  book ,the role of the media was never discussed or  talked about.The power of media and how it makes us believe  we are making choices when in fact the choices have already been made for us is something no one touched.Yet,we know media in the USA and in my country has played a role,a big one in the way the politics in these two countries has panned out.

The months before the American elections , if you watched  international news channels,especially CNN,President Donald Trump received a lot of coverage not all of it favorable,actually most of it  negative formed a recurring narrative on most news channels and discussion panels.There was enough time and information to be able to make the choice between President Trump , Hilary or  Bernie Sanders,they chose a former TV Reality Show star (there is nothing wrong with reality TV stars).

Michael Wolff for all the backlash he has received over the book,did say something that pretty much describes how President Trump would like to run the white house when he wrote,“Curiously for a man who seemed to have led a movement based in anger and retribution,Trump was very much(or he believed he was very much a politician of the old stripe-a lets -work-it out-guy.You scratch my back,I’ll scratch yours .He was in his mind,the ultimate tactician,always knowing what the other guy wanted.”

That knowing what the other guy wants is how he was able to get the GOP  nomination and beat Hilary at the polls.He knew and was speaking a language the average American understood,Americans wanted someone who was going to save them,their country and the values they thought their country stood for.Trump’s supporters wanted someone who could make America great again and Trump was speaking a language they were familiar with and could relate to.

He was the ultimate salesman.

The book is not just about Trump’s White House,it is a story about what is happening the world over,politically,it is a battle between “good’ and “evil” .Wolff provides what I consider a perfect description of politics today when he writes,“Politics had seemed to become,even well before the age of Trump,a mortal affair.It was now zero-sum:When one side profited,another lost.One side’s victory was another’s death.The old notion that politics was a traders game,an understanding that somebody else had something you wanted-a vote,goodwill,old-fashioned patronage-and that in the end the only issue was cost,had gone out of fashion.Now,it was a battle between good and evil.” 

That up there describes politics today,zero-sum.

And that is why America ,my country Kenya and many others   the world over are in the mess they are today.

When politics becomes a zero sum  game no one wins.Absolutely no one will ever win if we continue playing politics the way we are doing right now  where our wins are pegged on another person’s or groups loss.We fell into the zero sum trap when we started creating societies where everyone was placed into a particular social,ethnic,tribal or racial group and we aligned our political interests along those groups.

Read this fantastic article in the Washington post by llya Somin on Identity politics and the dangers of Zero-Sum Thinking.

This book is about that kind of politics, it reveals ,to borrow Wolff’s words that politics has become “a discrete business of insular,inbred,incestuous interests.”

Something will have to give if we go on like this and it will not be pretty.

Read the book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *