The notion that the average citizen should care deeply about the rule of law and constitutional norms — and even actively defend them — has become terribly passé. Now, all that truly matters is whether we are entertained by someone who can command televisual excitement the way Trump does on a daily, hourly basis. If he can’t, whatever the underlying facts, no one gives a damn.
I have wondered often since the Trump candidacy, Were Americans always so ignorant and shallow?
Certainly, Richard Nixon was removed from office for less grave offenses, and he at least tried to obscure them; Trump brazenly flips-off Constitutional norms. So, yeah, it appears that We, the People, have lost something necessary for self-governance. On the other hand, just 20-years ago the public discussion was dominated by newspapers and a handful of television broadcasters, and they generally tended to be well-informed and high-minded even if sometimes misguided; so it may be that a huge bloc of We, the People, were always ignorant and shallow — but had no means of organizing themselves and expressing their empty-headed ‘thoughts.’
What is certain is that the country is in grave trouble, and the Constitutional assumption of an informed and engaged citizenry isn’t holding.