We Must Refuse to Normalize Trumplandia

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I’m of the opinion that Trumplandia is an anomaly in America’s history, much like Vichy France was anomaly in that otherwise proud nation’s history. Americans are too easy to poke fun of the French for Vichy France, when France pretty much ruled much of Europe for 20 years just a hundred years before.

So let’s talk Trumplandia.

First, I keep talking about it, but what is Trumplandia? I first heard the term during the 2016 election cycle when someone said the FBI was “Trumplandia.” I found the term intriguing and as events progressed I gradually came to see Trumplandia as America’s version of Vichy France. Trumplandia is that collection of individuals who support Trump for various reasons and are so blinded by their devotion to him on a personal level that they’ve lost sight of the obvious: this is not normal.

It’s not normal and the sooner those of us who oppose Trumplandia stop being outraged and start being engaged, the better. That’s the crux of the problem of The Resistance, I think. It is way, way too easy to stay angry all the time to such an extent that you get burnt out.

But instead of getting burnt out, I would suggest we, the opposition, get engaged. We have to stay focused. We have to keep our eyes on the prize — at the very least flipping Congress in 2018. The Vichy Republicans who cower in front of Trump are at the center of the bizarre situation we find ourselves in during the Trumplandia Era.

To me, the most startling aspect of Trumplandia, the part of it that could potentially make someone white hot with rage, is that seemingly otherwise normal individuals willfully voted for a bigot, a racist and a misogynist. That such a thing happened at all in this nation that I love continues to blow my mind.

What’s worse, there continues to be an active effort to normalize Trumplandia. There is definitely a disconnect between what a large segment of the population thinks about Trumplandia and what the mainstream media thinks. You see that disconnect in various places like Twitter and the late night comedy shows. It is there that right minded people are openly debating if the President of the United States is a traitor, a quisling.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media is only slowly beginning to realize the gravity of all of this. After facilitating Donald Trump’s rise to power, media outlets like MSNBC’s Morning Joe are just now, reluctantly beginning to see the error of their ways. That doesn’t even begin to address outlets like Axios which are built from the ground up to be complicit in normalizing Trumplandia.

That’s why all of this is so troubling.

We are living in a dystopian present and there doesn’t seem to be anyway out. There doesn’t seem to be any easy answers for the foreseeable future for no other reason than the Vichy Republicans are so complicit in Trumplandia that they wouldn’t do anything to Trump politically, even if it was proven that his 2016 campaign actively colluded with the Russian efforts to hack our election.

So, as I keep saying, we need to put our outrage to work. We need to stop being outraged and we need to start being engaged. That is the path out of this dystopia. That is the path out of surreal political environment that we find ourselves in.

Only by using our outrage in a constructive, meaningful manner can we smite Trumplandia from our political landscape once and for all. The weird thing about Trumplandia is it has completely upended the traditional Left-Right spectrum, at least on social media.

But history does not go in a straight line. There will be setbacks. Maybe even a lot of them. But if we stay engaged, stay focused it is inevitable that at some point we will be victorious.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The TrumplandiaReport. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Axios As Complicit In Trumplandia

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I don’t have anything against the folks at Axios, it’s just I guess I am so opposed to Trumplandia that the notion that you would willfully prostrate yourself before Trumplandia in an effort to get a scoop kind of troubles me. That’s why I keep thinking someone, somewhere will found an anti-Axios.

I’m dong my little part with this site, but I simply don’t have the resources to do nearly enough with my vision. Should that change, should I get even the tiniest little bit of traction — most likely in the form of someone helping me — then that would rock.

Or put another way, it just seems pretty obvious that there needs to be a site that does the exact oppose of Axios. Once you normalize Trumplandia by seeing it as just another administration, you kind of facilitate a surreal dystopian future where the once unimaginable is taken for granted.

So, that’s why I’m left scratching my head as to why someone with some resources to back them hasn’t decided to start a site much like the old Gawker devoted to getting people to use their outrage against Trumplandia to become engaged. I keep expecting the guys of Crooked Media to do as I propose, but they seem more interested in doing podasts than a traditional blog.

It just makes too much sense. All the ingredients are there for an anti-Axios to explode. You have a lot of people like me who want a go-to site to bone up on resisting Trumplandia and given that over half the population voted for Hillary Clinton, there obviously is a market for it as well.

As I keep saying, I think probably some of what I want is being served by Twitter. That may be, in fact, what is going on. People like me are simply going to Twitter to get what I suggest they may want in an anti-Axios website. Websites are kind of passe these days for various reasons, so it may be difficult to get the funding to do it at all.

I’m no media expert, I simply don’t know.

I guess all of this boils down to my personal belief that something cool could be afoot if someone with a little vision — ie, me — was given the resources to start a site devoted to being an anti-Axios. After some thought, I realize what about Axios makes me uncomfortable — it’s complicit and it normalizes Trumplandia, which in my mind is something akin to Vichy France.

So, Axios is kind of a news organisation devoted to getting scoops from Vichy France by being complicit in the hole endeavor.

I’m sure they’re great folks and I have nothing personal against them, but I am of the opinion that sites like the one I would like to build need something to pick on and Axios would be a perfect target. But, as I keep saying, no one is probably going to help me and I’ll get bored of all of this soon enough.

But I still have a little bit of hope.

Shelton Bumgarner is The Trumplandia Report’s editor and publisher. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

The Vision Thing: ‘Be Engaged, Not Outraged’

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have given it some though and it seems as though for all this talk of not being outraged, there is an easy response: “Be engaged, not outraged.”

In other words, instead of getting angry all the time over the latest bigoted, misogynist, racist thing that has happened in Trumplandia, use whatever talent you have to combat it. For me, that’s doing this site. I am a pretty good writer, photographer and organizer. I am good at articulating a vision.

As Trumplandia and Tsar-a-Largo grinds on, the only way we can effectively prevent ourselves from being burnt out is to engage. Push the urge to be angry all the time aside and be energized and engaged in an effort to make the world a better place, to defeat Trumplandia once and for all.

If that means leaving your online cocoon and talking to someone who disagrees with you, so be it. That is probably one of the major problems we have a society right now. People simply refuse to talk to someone who disagrees with them because they think they’re trolling them.

At least in my personal experience, I think maybe that’s a scar from the Russian hacking of our election last year. We were mentally violated by a deluge of paid trolls and bots that were designed to make us fell unsafe online. It’s really tough after such an experience not to retreat to a “safe place” and avoid anyone who disagrees with you. But the crux of civil society is debate between people who disagree, so we can’t give up hope just yet. If we do, then our foe Russia has won even more than just the election of Donald Trump.

So, this site’s vision is to be a place to inform you, entertain you and maybe get you engaged instead of outraged. I have all kinds of cool daydreams that could become a reality with a little help. I really like what the folks of Crooked Media are going, but they aren’t doing enough in my opinion. All they do are weekly podcasts and I need and want something that happens significantly more often. Like on a daily, hourly basis if not even more than that. News seems to break so much these days, it would be nice to have a site that you immedately went to read up on it. Now, of course, Twitter pretty much serves that purpose to some extent, but I guess I’d like something a bit more long form. And since nothing really exists, I guess I feel like creating it myself.

On a personal note, I can’t do this alone if my vision is to become a reality. I need someone to help me. I can’t pay — at least right now — but I do have a decent amount of publishing experience and you could probably leverage your work on this site to get a paying job down the road. At least, that’s the delusion I tell myself when I think it’s possible someone might help me.

Yet, I would like to think maybe someone, somewhere might be willing to put in a minimal amount of effort to help me. All I really need is someone willing to write a little bit to supplement the writing that I do. More importantly, should this site take off — which I seriously doubt it will — I am going to need some donations of some sort for bandwidth, marketing and improving site appearance.

Yet I have very low expectations. Very low indeed. Unless something dramatic happens, I’ll get bored of this soon enough and move on to something else. But it’s definitely fun while it lasts.

Outrage In The Trumplandia Era

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It is easy to get outraged by the malfeasance and autocratic nature of Trump. It’s really easy. And, yet, we’ve reached the point where we can no longer be angry all the time. It’s what they want. They want to wear us out to such an extent that the United States becomes a “managed democracy” like Russia.

What I suggest is instead of being outraged, by energized.

Channel all that outrage into constructive means of political engagement. It doesn’t have to be a lot — it could be simply having an intelligent debate — in real life! — with someone who disagrees with you. It could be voting in a special election. Just stay engaged. Don’t tune out and let Trumplandia spread even farther across the land.

But it’s difficult to do this, I know. I was angry for a long, long time and alienated numerous people that in hindsight I regret having alienated. Or not. I guess now that I’ve calmed down some, I see how only by bridging the divide between myself and members of Trumplandia will anything change.

So, people like me need to stop blaming Trumplandia voters and we need to begin to figure out how to get to the root of the problem. Hell, we need to figure out what the root of the problem is to begin with. It’s still a mystery to me.

Every explanation people have given me for why Trumplandia exists at all simply doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it boils down to something even more basic than any of us dare contemplate — the great man theory of history. It could be that Donald Trump through sheer force of will exploited deep, dark things in the American psyche that none of us realized still existed.

It didn’t help that not only was Hillary Clinton a horrible candidate, she faced the headwinds of misogyny and Russian meddling. Throw in the traditional ebb and flow of American politics and once Trump got past the primaries, it was pretty much inevitable he would win the general election.

But let’s go back to outrage. At least one Trump voter has told me that everytime I expressed outrage on Facebook Live, it only made them want to vote for Trump more. I find that to be a puzzling, to say the least, line of reasoning. It seems as though Trumplandia is a guttural grunt in the general direction of a mythical time in America’s recent past when it was “great.”

I still can’t figure out when, exactly, that was and why we would want to go back to it given my belief that America is great now. Or, at least, was, until Trump grabbed it by the genitals.

So, don’t get angry. Whatever you do, don’t get angry. Get engaged. Try to bridge the divide between The Resistance and Trumplandia. We have a long, long, long road ahead of us and the sooner we trade in our outrage for engagment, the sooner maybe we can go back to normal.

Axios Watch: Axios Of Dullness

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Welcome to the first installment of my effort to document Axios’ cover of Trumplandia. Now, let me stress, I have no idea if this is going to last more than one issue. I may grow bored of it — and this blog in general — and all of this will be moot.

But if the late Gawker can do 500 days of coverage for a z list celebrity, then I can at least attempt to occasionally pick on Axios.

So, let’s look at what’s going on at our polar opposite. Axios makes it name, at least according to the sense I get from Twitter, for getting great scoops because it is something of a lapdog that uses access journalism to make a name for itself. Given that I have no money and have no access, it makes sense that I would see my self on the other end of the spectrum from Axios.

The site itself looks great. It’s got a clean, sleek design that is inviting and enjoyable. Having said that, the actual content — at least on the surface — seems pretty meh. I don’t know enough context yet to know how right I am on that.

Anyway, today, Axios the site leads with a story about Sec. of State Rex Tillerson’s diplomatic work relative to Jared Kushner. Dull. I don’t care. Boring. Give me something interesting about Trumplandia. Give me more detail about, like, why doesn’t Kushner speak in public? What is up with that, yo?

I guess I’m not the audience, because I am struggling to find one sold story that catches my interest. One that is interesting, however, is their article about Angela Merkel talking about the sorry state of Europe-American relations these days because of Trump. It’ an important story…and yet…it seems to me they could spin it with a little bit more pizzazz.

But, like I said, I have a feeling I’m not the audience. The audience is wonky people in D.C. not some broke ass writer in the middle of a fly over state.

I have to give them credit, they have at least one sold headline — ‘Raging Bull’ Trump shifts back into 2016 campaign mode That is at least a mildly interesting headline.

Overall, the content of the site is kind of like that scene in Wayne’s World where they end up in Delaware.

The Time Is Ripe For The Founding Of An Anti-Axios Startup

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

This is one of those instances where I can articulate a vision quite well, but given that I simply don’t have the resources, it’s not like anything is going to happen with it. In fact, absolutely nothing is going to happen with my vision for an “anti-Axios” of sorts.

As you may know, from what I can gather from Twitter, Axios is considered a prime example of lapdog “access journalism” in the age of Trumplandia. Off the top of my head, I honestly can’t think of a site that does the opposite online right now.

I can’t think of a site that attacks Trumplandia mercilessly with wit and snarkiness. I am writing this blog in large part because I want to get a lot of things about Trumplandia off my chest and I can’t do it in 140 characters.

I propose that if someone who did have resources were to follow the vision I wish to articulate, that there would be both the audience and the market for the site to be successful. All the ingredients for a site as I propose exist for it to be successful.

You have both a market and an audience that, as of right now, isn’t really being served. If someone like me can’t think of a single go-to blog to read about how horrible Trumplandia is, then obviously it doesn’t exist in any meaningful manner.

What I want is spread across several sites, most of which I don’t read. Vice, Wonkette and a few others do some of what I want, but really the site that as of right now does it is Twitter itself. So, maybe that’s why the site I want doesn’t exist.

I just get it from Twitter.

But it would be cool for a site such as I suggest to exist. Maybe it will eventually, but, alas, I doubt I will be involved in any way.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

The Fall Of The Fallon Empire & The Rise Of Colbert Nation

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

When Jimmy Fallon tussled Donald Trump’s hair in 2016, it marked the fall of a late night ratings empire that everyone expected to last for decades. This example of “Falloning” was one of many during the course of the 2016 campaign. It took a lot longer than it should have for people to take Trump, the demagogue, seriously.

Flash forward to 2017, and we live in a weird world where Stephen Colbert is now the late night campaign. Apparently it comes from time-shifting viewers, but still.

With the rise of Colbert Nation in the wake of Trumplandia, it raises some interesting questions. I know, at least from personal experience, that I only watch The Late Show for the monologue. It’s nice to have a place one a day where you get help processing how insane recent events have been. Colbert’s monologue serves a great purpose for American society as a whole and should Trumplandia prosper for a full eight years, it could produce some pretty high ratings for Colbert for years to come.

As I have mentioned before, comedians are at the forefront of American civil society’s reaction to Trumplandia. That, right now at least, is the primary method through which we process the existence of Trumplandia in the first place.

Some observers, however, see the rise of Colbert Nation — and similar popular anti-Trumplandia comics — to have a dark side. They think by being “too mean” to Trump, it causes people who are conservative, but not Trump supporters, to make the conscious decision to throw their lot in with Trump. I don’t know how much to read into this to be true.

Trumplandia is such a cancer on American civil society, that there has to be a point when eventually such arguments will be see as bullshit. It doesn’t work being nice to Trumplandia, to normalize it and they definitely don’t mind people being assholes, so why can’t we give them a taste of their own medicine?

A lot of this has to do with how “serious” commentators simply don’t know what to do with Trumplandia. They want things to go back to the way they were. Vanity Fair, for instance, at one point all but begged the ratings gods to make Jimmy Fallon number 1 again. This revolution caused by the rise of Trumplandia is something we’re going to have to get used to.

What will be interesting to see is what happens should the Tsar-a-Largo scandal grind on for years and finally produce some sort of result that no one can deny. (Yes, that may still be possible despite tribal politics.) When will we run out of jokes and begin to take Trump a lot more seriously than we have in days past.

I think give the earnest edge of Colbert’s monologue we’re about reaching that point. It seems as though people are beginning to wake up to how serious all of this is and soon enough we’ll stop laughing and get down to the serious business of The Resistance.

Fight The Power: Will Trumplandia Force Millennials To Rock?

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It goes without saying, at least relative to where I sit, that pop music is pretty boring these days. The closest we have to rock music, oddly enough is not even rock at all: it’s EDM and Rap. The complete absence of rock music of any sort for about 10 years now is really strange.

Which makes me think back to the last time we had really good mainstream music being churned out on a regular basis — the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. Now, I am not suggesting that even the existential threat to the Republic known as Trumplandia could cause, say, a new Beatles to pop up.

But I am suggesting that “woke pop” as practiced by the likes of Katy Perry, might be the first stirrings of something far more significant — “protest pop.” Woke pop is about as subtle as it comes when it comes to talking about issues of the day. It’s like a tap on the shoulder or a wink, when I want more of bitchslap. I guess what I want is a revival of the type of music that Public Enemy was producing back in the day. That was the last time I can think of where you had politics directly spoken about in music, though Rage Against The Machine had elements of it as well.

Yet, as I keep saying in different ways, really all this boils down to the marketplace. Given how docile Americans are in general, it takes a lot to rile them up. The protest music of the Civil Right Era and Vietnam Era happened gradually as 1967’s Summer Of Love became, well, 1968.

Some of what happened during that period obviously had something to do with demographics. The Baby Boomers were hitting the brick wall of the Great Generation’s power in society and they weren’t having any of it. I keep thinking that the current dearth in good music is also the result of demographics. Eventually, at some point, my logic goes, the people who were born around 2000 — Millennials — will pick up an electric guitar and discover the joys of punk or rock or rap or whatever.

But as I keep saying, Americans are extremely docile. It takes a huge amount to rile us up, but once you do, watch out. The question, of course, is Trumplandia unto itself enough to bring back politically charged protest pop. Right now, the jury is definitely out. I just don’t know.

It’s one of those things that could go either way. If Tsar-A-Largo grinds on for years and it becomes pretty obvious to everyone that Donald Trump is, in fact, compromised by the Russians, then it’s possible what I want to have happen, will happen. But nothing comes of it or if Trump leaves office significantly sooner than any of us expect, then we’ll have to continue to suffer bad music.

Really, what has to happen is people start writing protest songs and throwing them against the wall. Eventually one of them might stick and open the floodgates of great music. I guy can hope, can’t he?

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He is a writer and photographer in Richmond, Va. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Waiting For The Movie Industry To Strike Against Trumplandia

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

It takes time for movies to gestate. From conception to release, it is usual about 18 months as best I can understand. So, the fact that there haven’t been any major movies produced that are meant to serve as metaphors for Trumplandia should not be surprising.

As I have mentioned before, that doesn’t mean there isn’t material out there for some great movies. I’m thinking specifically of The Mule portion of The Foundation Saga. It is just too timely for someone not to do something with it. I can think of at least one scene in the novel that would make audiences gasp with how relevant it is in the age of Trumplandia.

And, yet, maybe I’m expecting too much. The Watergate scandal generated pretty much one movie at the time and that was All The President’s Men. I guess I see Trumplandia as even more serious than Watergate. I see it more existential than Watergate. I see it more along the lines of Prohibition or the Vietnam War. That’s why I keep expecting someone to pull out all the stops and do an epic metaphor for Trumplandia like a modern day Apocalypse Now.

But maybe I am expecting too much. Maybe the eerie silence within much of pop culture when it comes to Trumplandia has more to do with economics than any decline and fall of the Republic. From the perspective of the market, you don’t want to offend have the marketplace by taking a stand against Trumplandia.

So, the Tsar-A-Largo scandal will grind on and we’ll having nothing to show for it other than lasting damage to the American body politic and a few hundred thousand jokes. That’s one possibility. And, yet, because of how strong America’s civil society is, I’d like to think the Kraken will eventually be released.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say we’re in a pretty big existential crisis right now in American history and if things got so bad that movie producers felt comfortable churning out movies that were obviously a wink-and-a-nod to our dire political straights, then maybe that might be the type of thing to subtly influence people to hit the streets.

And, yet, things are really up in the air right now. I think the most likely scenario is a particularly “woke” sleeper movie will be produced and it will be a huge success and that will cause other, similar movies to be produced. At least, that’s typically how things have happened in the past.

But we’ll see. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. It could go either way, I guess.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He is a writer and photographer in Richmond, Va. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Short Story Draft: Trumplandia

This is a rough first draft of a short story that I hope to turn into a novel about Trumplandia. It’s a decent start, but I continue to struggle with a plot of the scope needed for a novel.
Continue reading “Short Story Draft: Trumplandia”