Amy Roberts: When reality TV becomes reality
Two weeks ago, it felt like we were all on an episode of Jerry Springer waiting to find out who the father was. With the exception of two Senate seats in Georgia and a handful of TBD seats in the House of Representatives, the outcome of this month’s election is finalized. And yet it still feels like we’re on some kind of trashy reality show. There’s a lot of screaming and drama. Allegiances have been formed. There are a few tears and there’s a lot of lying. None of this should be all that surprising considering Trump was a reality TV star. Given the last four years, it’s easy to wonder if we were all just unwitting characters in his show. For his series finale on Jan. 20, I wouldn’t be surprised if he throws a drink in someone’s face as he exits the White House. Though I’d rather see an out-of-control Mike Pence shout, “How dare you!” as he pulls off Trump’s weave. Ratings gold.
Still, it would be difficult to top the past two weeks of chaos. Lawyers quitting, judges dismissing, conspiracy theories swirling. Not to mention a hastily assembled press conference in the parking lot of a landscaping company that neighbors a cremation center and porn shop. A fitting omen for what will happen next perhaps. Because something is definitely happening next. There will be more plot twists, more backstabbing, more insanity, more harm to the country, more embarrassment. It is with great certainty that we can confirm Trump has won the state of denial in a landslide.
Much like actual reality TV, watching it all makes you feel a little better about your own life. Going through a divorce? Can’t find a job? Fighting with your neighbors? Yeah, that all sucks. But at least you’re not a delusional narcissist. One who ironically is also about to be unemployed, is unliked by his neighbors and is probably going to be divorced again soon.
What amazes me the most about Trump’s insistence that he won the election isn’t the lack of proof, nor is it the speed in which these lawsuits are being dismissed because of the lack of evidence. It isn’t even the sheer number of people who believe him. That’s scary, but not surprising. The most surprising part is that no one in Trump’s camp seems to consider that Republicans picked up seats in the House and that Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham won reelection. If there had been a mass cheating effort by Democrats, not only would there be actual evidence of this effort, but Mitch and Lindsey would not be keeping their jobs. And Utah’s Burgess Owens would not have ousted Ben McAdams.
He did though, after garnering roughly 2,000 more votes than his opponent. Owens, whose campaign messaging skewed more towards representing Trump than representing Utah’s 4th District, has quite a bit in common with the outgoing president. He’s a frequent bankruptcy filer, owes millions in unpaid taxes, thinks there’s something to the QAnon conspiracy theory, pledged to cut Social Security and Medicare, opposes insurance protections for those with pre-existing conditions, wants to dismantle the Department of Education and supports Trump’s plan to restart nuclear testing in Utah. And of course, anyone who disagrees with him hates America and isn’t a patriot. Because there’s no place for dissent in a democracy. Obviously.
It was recently disclosed Owens also accepted more than $135,000 in campaign contributions over the legal donor limit. Maybe he forgot what the legal amount was due to the brain injury he claimed he suffered while playing in the NFL. In 2012 he joined a class-action lawsuit filed by former NFL players. He stated he suffered from memory loss, impulse control and other permanent damage due to repeated concussions. Despite these claims, when he was tested for brain injury symptoms, it was determined he had “no cognitive or physical issues.” I guess filing bogus lawsuits is just another thing he has in common with Trump.
So voters in Utah’s 4th District will basically get two more years of Trump instead of Ben McAdams, who was one of just 20 members of Congress recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for his willingness to work across party lines for the greater good. There seems to be little hope Burgess Owens will aspire to do the same. But the good news is, those who love reckless absurdity can still get their dose of it with Owens. Bravo, Utah. Bravo!
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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