I’m always open for a good comparison and I found a one. What Muhammad Ali was to HBO in the seventies is what Donald Trump is to politics, or the GOP, today.
Back in the seventies the invention of Home Box Office, HBO, was limping along with its popularity nowhere near peaking. Then came the Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frasier fight, part 3, with the hyped “Thrilla in Manila”. Ali himself a great promoter. It attracted viewers like nothing before pushing HBO off to bigger things and greater popularity.
Our biggest problem in politics, according to some has always been the lack of participation When you can look around and see other 2nd-rate countries with greater participation in the voting process than the US, it always sparks the question “why?” If only people were more active and part of the system maybe we could get better results? And the chief complaint when things go wrong was always that not enough people pay attention and get actively involved.
Then along came Trump. He was the Thrilla in Manila to GOP politics. We always said Dems had all the attractions to their politics but people weren’t interested, or invested, in GOP politics. Why couldn’t GOP draw people? Once in a while it takes that something or someone to come along and launch an event or thing to a whole new level.
Like him or not, and many don’t, that is what Trump did. And for the first time in my memory Democrats didn’t know who to attack. Remember they started on Jeb Bush, assuming he’d be the anointed front runner? For the first time they couldn’t predict the next GOP move. That must have driven the Democrats nuts. But hatred came with it.
Now that we have him, they all love to hate him. He’s become the target, the object of whatever they want to depict him as. Yet it is the American people, those fed-up voters and members of the public extraordinaire, who are the object of their mockery. It was us all along who wanted to bring more interest, excitement and commitment to an important process. And now we’ve become the enemy and target of their wrath.
Or in the words of Muhammad Ali, “I don’t have to be what you want me to be.”
HBO’s legacy since has become the place where people go when they’ve arrived. It’s the big stage not a backstage.But the springboard was Ali and Thrilla in Manila. So often everyone is busy rushing to and looking for the next big thing that they haven’t exploited the potential in the basics we have.
That’s also the problem with politics. We’re kept focused on one election after the last but with nothing much in between. When something comes up that commands people’s attention and action, we’re told wait for next election. It’ll get the hype it deserves. But after years of playing that old parlor game, we finally reached that “next election.”
And when the people now say they want something different than that spoon-fed agenda, with the same results, the establishment balks at them. So the outcome is a Donald Trump for president. What do they want to do, attack the messenger and all his supporters? “That’ll learn ’em.” This was a long time coming.
It’s not much a surprise that we’re being told to sit down and shut up or we’ll lose the election. There’s always a danger of taking comparisons too far. This one is interesting.
The sit down and shut up really doesn’t fit either case.
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