Voting results are in. The winners are clear.
Losers are clear, too.
What is unclear is how this diverse nation with varied, often polarized opinions and divergent factual understandings moves toward a greater, more unified and stronger future.
Americans cast their ballots, but there is one vote that they now need to make against the people who failed and misled this citizenry. Donald Trump railed against them incessantly; Hillary Clinton considered them part of a vast conspiratorial plot.
“They” are the gatekeepers and party crashers. The false prognosticators and the misleading arbiters of speech, thought and norms. “They” are the ubiquitous, incessantly chattering, consistently erring and holier-than-thou television media.
Unlike the print world, where reading requires reflection and abhors reduction, the blaring, bombastic nature of modern television media predicates its value on conflict and sensationalism, measuring its success in scintillation and consumerism.
Finger-pointing is a common sport after each election; parties engage in internecine battles, partisans in family feuds. But this election season of imperfect candidates fueling an acronym-rich cable menu of craven, ratings-seeking supplicants will forever be seen as the cynicism-feeding electoral cycle that finally made America feel fed-up.
Thankfully, there is one more powerful vote Americans can cast. And they can do it today. They can vote against CNN, MSNBC, Fox, the networks and the rest of the vile and vulgar broadcasters who may cause America to lose her way.
Cut the cable. Do it today.
Vote #NeverComcast. Vote #NeverDirectTV. Vote like you mean it. Cut the cord. Why invite this visual virus into the living rooms of decent and upstanding families? Why allow the blabfest to overtake dining room discussion, civil dialogue, and suck up time citizens could otherwise spend working toward common solutions?
People can drop their cable company, but still keep their broadband internet connections. They can unsubscribe to the noisy nonsense that everyone hates, but somehow feels compelled to view. Cable is a roadside wreck we must now drive by. We must avert our eyes.
Cut the cable. Do it now.
It may seem hard at first. It may seem scary. But there is nothing to fear but the solitude of critical thought and the power of considered ideas. Take the savings from an expensive monthly cable bill and apply the money to a print or online newspaper subscription, find a measured magazine, buy a buoyant book. Think. Feel. Act.
Say goodbye to the consolidating, monopolizingly monolithic media structures that want to suck up your time, resources and energy. Find new – or rediscover old – forms of entertainment, sources of information and venues in which to interact. The current cable and network offerings have proven unreliable and play on our basest fears, instincts and desires. Do not give in.
Will you or your family miss “locker room talk?” Did played-up WikiLeaks information enlighten or confuse you? Do you relish explaining salacious photos of an incoming first lady to your kids? Do broadcasters’ insights explain nuance and whether those emails were ultimately legal or illegal?
Life is too short, budgets too tight, democracy too fragile to let cable providers steal these things from you.
This is a time to think about the implications of the presidential election. First here at home, then for the world at large. As with each election, there will always be winners and losers. That is how democratic politics work.
Citizens have a right to decide not only how they vote, but also a right to make informed decisions. Broadcasters have done their best to disinform and confuse the electorate. In this moment of post-election clarity, cut the cable. Now.
This may seem old-fashioned or naive. It may seem idealistic or unworkable. To borrow a familiar phrase: “What have you got to lose?”
Markos Kounalakis is a senior fellow at Central European University and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KounalakisM.