I was playing basketball in Reutlingen, Germany when Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential Election.
I didn’t get to vote (and didn’t put effort into filling out an “absentee” ballot from Europe), but Barack made it happen without me. His photo was on the front page of the newspaper in Germany the next morning.
Politics weren’t talked about as much back in ‘08 as they are now. Barack Obama, from how I remember it, didn’t really register with people as a politician. His presence was about more than an election — it represented the belief that American could put aside their surface differences and unite behind a cause: Change.
Change, along with “Yes We Can,” were Obama’s campaign slogans. Both were genius, and, as we now know, accurate. A Black man had been elected President.
I read several articles by sports writers that week. One, a white man based in New York, shared how there were celebrations in the streets of Manhattan late into the night that day, and how he had cried when he heard Obama had won.
For Obama’s first term, at least, there was this wave of positivity, inclusion and togetherness. Life was far from perfect (the recession hit hard in 08-09), but it seemed that people were making an attempt to work out differences.
Perhaps this is all just my myopic perception, being that I’m a Black man and I, like many Black Americans, just wanted to see it happen: a Black man winning the Presidency, policies and politics be damned.
Barack served his two terms and moved on. I still remember a statement he made in his farewell speech.
Everyone cheered when he said it. It was the most profound moment of his farewell address, because he, like you and I, could see where things were going.
Many people like to blame the shift that has since occurred — everyone is still arguing on the Internet — on President Trump. While I can agree that Trump is definitely representative of the shift, he’s not the cause of it.
You are the cause.
Me too. And the fact that we’ve been programmed by social media and the algorithms that run them — algorithms that are all exponentially smarter than any of us are.
(I know you think you’re an exception to the power of the algorithm. You’re not.)
If you remember Trump’s campaign, he took advantage of the “low road,” giving out derisive nicknames and insulting his unprepared counterparts into oblivion.
This worked. In a big way. Draw your own judgments as to whether it was worth it.
He went on to face Hillary Clinton and kept it up. “Crooked” will forever be connected to her name thanks to Donald Trump.
Here’s what I’m getting at.
At first, Hillary played the high road with Trump. He went low with his insults and nicknames; she played the “Presidential” card and didn’t stoop to his level.
That strategy was failing.
Hillary knew she was falling behind. By the end of the campaign, she (along with all left-wing media) was playing Trump’s game, and famously won the popular vote (but not the electoral vote, and subsequently not the office).
Years later, crime is down, employment and the economy were up before COVID — yet the world is more divided than ever.
Some like to point to the President for this. I have two reasons to challenge this —
1) I don’t recall any President of my lifetime influencing people’s actions that much. Not even Obama. I don’t see or hear many people trying to be like any politician.
2) The word for the anti-Trump crowd in 2016 was to “resist” — if you’re resisting, you can’t blame his influence (or that of his supporters) for your actions.
I don’t think any politician is the cause of where we’re at. I believe it’s the morphing of the media to keep up with the changing times.
What the media has done in response: give you more reasons to pay attention. And what draws a person’s attention, always and without fail?
Emotion. Negative emotions in particular. Fear, anger, anxiety… you can fill a day with just those alone.
The news used to be where we went to make sense of the world. While “if it bleeds it leads” has always been the mantra of news outlets, they were still objective: lead with the murder or snowstorm, but adhere to only reporting actual facts.
Is any network doing that anymore? Every news anchor is a columnist now; they used to be reporters.
Reporter: Tell us what happened.
Journalist: Tell us enough of what happened, along with your commentary / opinion of it, to shape people’s opinions.
News people’s job security factors in how popular they are on social media. Name one person who’s popular on social media for being objective and straight-down-the-middle…? You probably can’t even think of anyone who fits that description.
Opinions and polarization draw attention. It helps you build a brand, attract and nurture an audience. And the fact is, no one can afford to be neutral anymore — not even the very platform that was built to be our outlet from the opinions, the one place we could go to get things straightened out.
I don’t know who to trust anymore. You’re on your own.
Actually, there is one person you can always trust (I hope): yourself. Get my book The Mirror Of Motivation FREE right now so you mentally equipped to be the best version of you, which means you’ll have at least one person you can count on.
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Be sure to check the following MasterClasses on this topic —
#1474: Stop Watching “The News”!
#1473: How To Remove “Noise” From Your Life
#1151: Your Greatest Power: Willingness To Walk Away
#1150: Don’t Announce All Of Your News
#1149: Confidence And The Work Behind It: A Choice
#990: How To Raise Your Opinion Of Yourself
#1407: Subjective Opinions Matter More Than Facts Now
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