With the “compassionate” Trump budget ready to starve ancient Aunt Mathilda and Uncle Bo, along with bratty Cousin Timmy and his bothersome preschool breakfasts, I admit I’m not feeling very compassionate myself these days.
I’ve read ass-chapping narratives that those of us who voted for Hillary Clinton in the past election should feel sorry for stupid Trumpers who are experiencing buyer’s remorse now that their Republican Congress is trying to steal their health care. Well I don’t feel compassion, and that’s because many of these supposed victims aren’t as stupid as they’re often portrayed. Instead, most of them are ignorant by choice.
Literacy figures indicate there are 32 million adults in this country who cannot read, and another 21 percent who read below a 5th grade level. I have tremendous compassion for people with learning disabilities, and those who, for reasons rooted in poverty or lack of opportunity, did not receive a proper education. But there is another group — the willfully ignorant group that comprises most Trump supporters — and it deserves not one ounce of my compassion.
You know members of that group as well as I do. What they lack in “book learnin,’ “ they make up for through grit, determination and hard work, all commendable traits. They don’t talk like they’ve “got no educayshun,” and many of them own nicer homes than yours or mine. But where important issues of the day are concerned — like health care, the process of government, or who’s got access to the nuclear codes — they are woefully and willfully ignorant.
Why? Not because they cannot read, but because they will not read, at least not from legitimate sources. They couldn’t care less about the realities of government or foreign policy. They treat goings-on in Washington like it’s one big sitcom, and they like Trump because he’s always good for a few laughs.
So when it came to pass that an inveterate liar was elected president, and a Republican Party with a well-established history of helping only the wealthy retained power in Congress, some now say I should feel sympathy for those who belatedly realized that they, too, are about to be screwed.
Oh I’m plenty sympathetic to my own plight, and to yours, too, as long as you didn’t vote for Trump. I’m also sympathetic to the plight of the 32 million illiterates who might be excused for not knowing any better. But as for those willfully ignorant Trumpers, they have only themselves to blame, and they deserve every ounce of what’s coming. And the saddest thing of all is that in four years or eight years, they could do the same thing all over again, because that’s what stupid does.
There are many ways for people to know what is going on in this world, to become informed, to educate themselves. There are so many sites that provide legitimate news — some of them still free — that I have no sympathy for people who prefer to wallow in ignorance.
I can’t adequately express how grateful I am that you’re reading The Shinbone Star, but let’s face it, the majority of our staff is not young; many of us are either retired or doing other things because we cost too much for our beleaguered former employers to retain. I’m one of those, accepting a buyout several years ago when I saw the handwriting on the wall, and not for the first time in my career.
For most news consumers the game is different these days. You have your Facebook, your Twitter and your WordPress feeds, and all of it spills for free onto the screens of your handheld devices. I get it. It’s natural to not want to pay for something you can get without spending a dime, but it’s also not especially helpful to journalists who are using their skills to try and earn a living, while at the same time trying to save all of our asses.
Yes, we here at The Shinbone Star love that you’re reading us, and we marvel at our international appeal. But ultimately, it’s the men and women who are still in the trenches at places like The Washington Post, The New York Times, and other traditional print operations that are going to make the difference. We’ll keep writing here as long as we can because it makes us feel like we’re using our skills for a good cause. But the very best thing we can do — the thing that will really feel good — is to persuade you to lend your eyeballs and your dollars to support real journalism, which, contrary to popular opinion, requires real money and real commitment.
Think about it. Of the three branches of government, the presidency and the legislative have already fallen. Only the judiciary, and with it, the wobbling Fourth Estate, are left to fight a red-hatted horde that is willfully ignorant and entirely culpable for the undermining of our democracy.
Please, help the people who are fighting the fight. Cletus and Zeb from down the street won’t help because they’re still too busy blaming Hillary and Obama for the loss of their health care. That’s why it’s up to you.
If you simply can’t afford it, please continue accessing legitimate news any way you can. But if you can manage to spend just pennies a day, please, suck it up and buy a subscription to any of the legitimate publications listed below. It could be the most important investment you make toward fighting the Trumpian Menace.
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