Originally featured on Huffington Post October 19, 2016
I live in Ormond Beach, Florida, a quiet beachside community east of Orlando and North of Daytona Beach. Our little house was just about as close as anyone could get in Florida to a direct hit from Hurricane Matthew. Fortunately, at the last minute, Matthew decided to wobble a little East and stayed off our coast by about 20 miles. We were spared the catastrophic damage experienced by those in Haiti, but we did lose our roof, fences, and power for about a week.
It is interesting what happens when a whole community loses power and is cut off from the world’s barrage of information delivered electronically through the media. Neighbors cool off by sitting on their front porches. We go for walks and stop to talk to whoever is outside. We read books! We are invited to cookouts where we all bring food to grill before it spoils.
When there is no hurricane, we like to stay inside like hermit crabs to avoid the late summer Florida heat. We watch the endless news cycle on the idiot box. When we do venture out in our air-conditioned cars, we notice an equal amount of “Make America Great” and “Stronger Together” yard signs. We are divided, and that is the way the media and the politicians want it.
It hit me on the seventh day after Matthew. Life was getting back to normal. I started my day at the gym on the elliptical machine in front of 10 TVs side-by-side. I choose to listen to EDM (Electronic Dance Music). Hey, once a DJ, always a DJ. While I can not hear the TVs, I can see what each station is broadcasting and can get a pretty good idea about what’s going on in the world.
WOW! I missed a lot in a week without power. There was a debate. Trump grabbed women’s crotches. Hillary bashed Catholics in one of her thousands of leaked emails. Phones were catching fire and blowing up! How did I survive without knowing every single detail?
It is disturbing to see 10 TVs side-by-side, specifically CNN next to FOX News. CNN was 24/7 sex and womanizing, and FOX was all about the emails. Neither seemed to care about the other issue. That is annoying enough but what pissed me off was when all 10 TVs were simultaneously running political ads. It turns out, Hillary and Trump have already spent a combined $600 million on ads and expect to spend an additional $400 million before election day. $1 BILLION!?!?!?
I drive around and look at the downed power lines, ripped up roofs, shattered businesses and wonder if that billion dollars could have been better spent HELPING AMERICANS, NOT DIVIDING THEM! Imagine the “good” that a billion dollars can provide. How many roads or bridges could we repair? How many schools could we build? How many teachers, or first responders could we hire?
For six days in Central Florida, we were cut off from all the bull shit. We talked to one another. We had conversations and came to conclusions ourselves without the media influence. For a whole week, there were no donkeys or elephants in the neighborhood, just Americans. We shared tools, saws, ice, generators and cold beers. We helped each other fix our homes and clean our neighborhoods. We went door-to-door recruiting folks to help clean our beautiful beach. Everyone worked together for a common cause. Republicans with Democrats. Millennials with Baby Boomers.
Now the power is back on in Central Florida. People have replaced their blown down yard signs with shiny new ones, and we are once again exposed to the politicians and the media’s onslaught of “he said, she said” all devised to keep us divided. You see a divided electorate is good for ratings. We tune in to get riled up. We fall for the sound bytes and Tweets. We feed the fire by sharing on our social networks and passing judgment without digging deeper to see if the headlines have any merit. The media and the politicians thrive when we act like sheep that they can herd us in any direction they want with their spin and “Breaking News.” The media is foaming at the mouth on the eve of the last debate while quietly sobbing and freaking out behind the cameras as they wonder what they will talk about after November 8th.
I became a registered Independent 20 years ago because I was fed up wth the bipartisan crap in DC. It has only gotten worse I’m afraid. The politicians avoid discussing specifics about how their plans will actually help us and choose to sling the mud. That’s exactly what the media wants because unfortunately, that is what we like to watch. The ratings support that.
Wouldn’t it be nice if both Hillary and Trump spent the next 21 days discussing policy and plans to help the citizens of The United States of America? Maybe the whole country should cut off the power once and a while and experience what it is like to be “United” again in this great nation of ours. Maybe my neighbor has it right? “Everybody Sucks! We’re Screwed 2016.”