Since the inaugural days of the Trump Administration, it’s been clear that they’re not big fans of the arts. The only books Trump knows of, after all, are The Holy Bible and The Art of the Deal and I suspect he’s read neither. Confirming this suspicion that Trump is an enemy of the arts is his new budget proposal, which his budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, can’t stop describing as “hard power.”
It’s since become clear to the American public that “hard power” is euphemistic language for assaulting the elderly, the artistic, and the poor. And it does not make sense, considering one of the major reasons we know that is that the trimming of these vital programs like PBS does not actually do a lot for Trump in the “save money” column.
The Independent ran a story about how Trump’s cuts to the National Endowment of the Arts funding would save the government 0.0625% of their budget. Compared to the benefits it confers upon millions of young and artistic Americans, that is nowhere near the cost necessary for justification.
But I already know about Donald Trump and his assault on the arts. Today, I want to talk about you, and why you’re not really mad about it.
Since the budget’s release, an onslaught of support has come out for the arts and PBS in particular, with people changing their profile pictures on Facebook to say “I support PBS,” a la Planned Parenthood Style or LGBT flags. However, the arts are constantly under assault and don’t always receive this kind of overwhelming support. Why?
The same country that leans heavily toward STEM and teaches students that the arts, rather than being a viable career, is nothing more than a hobby is the same country that is opposed to Donald Trump’s suggestions to cut funding for them. In this way, Trump’s actions force Americans to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to paying lip service to the arts. It’s calling out the cognitive dissonance of claiming that the arts have no value outside of enjoyment and simultaneously becoming visibly enraged when someone suggests we stop paying for them.
Furthermore, the difficulty with this newfound resistance to Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts as it relates to the arts might bring in many people who are opposed to Donald Trump and everything that he does, but that’s not who arts advocates need. We don’t need you to stand against Donald Trump, we need you to stand for the arts. The distinction may not appear to matter while numbers and support swell, but it will matter once things go back to relative ease, and arts suffer in silence.
We can’t reasonably make jokes about how useless liberal arts degrees are and then be upset when the president of the United States suggests that arts aren’t important enough to pay for with taxpayer money. Either we stand with the arts or don’t, but the middle ground is causing undercurrent of anti-art sentiments to seep in, ones that will eventually wash art and the people that make it, away.
Check out this video by I Don’t Know Anything about why art matters:
Featured image courtesy of RealArts via Odyssey.