As our nation closes in on one half of the first year in Trump’s presidency, the debate over why he won last November is still being waged by millions of Americans on all points of the political spectrum. Hillary Clinton recently told a CNN reporter, in a widely publicized interview, that the ultimate reason that she lost the election is because FBI James Comey spooked the American people with his cautionary letter to Congress.
I want to offer a less vindictive and conspiratorial assessment. I think the real reason that Clinton lost the election is because most Americans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.
According to the Television Bureau of Advertising, the average American family has 2.5 TVs per household. 75% of Americans have at least one television set in their living room, and 31% have 4 sets or more. Kids 2-11, spend 26 hrs a week watching TV. That amounts to 1,248 hours a year. The average American adult watches 4 hours of TV each day. Every 4 hours a viewer witnesses 80 minutes of commercials.
In total, Americans spend a little more than 20 days a year just watching television commercials. From the age of 3-80, an average American will spend 1,540 days watching commercials. Divide this number by 365 days and you get 4.2 years.
Microsoft funded researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). They found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. The goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.
Could it be that the ultimate reason a cameo actor on The Nanny, Sex and the City, Home Alone 2, The Little Rascals, and Zoolander- and an executive producer of the Miss Universe pageant and The Apprentice- was able to become POTUS, is because the name Trump is a commercial brand that screen addicted Americans knew and trusted?
Trump won for the same reason that consumers buy Sprite instead of the store brand lemon up. Trump won for the same reason people buy a bottle of Advil instead of the generic Rite Aid brand. Trump won because most Americans will spend 4 years watching commercials. Trump won because most Americans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. Trump won because he shouted loudest and most often on television.
George Cassidy Payne is a SUNY adjunct professor of philosophy and peace and justice activist based in Rochester, NY.