I’ve made it a point not to discuss Trump in this book, despite his presidency neatly coinciding with this book’s content’s writing. Everyone talks about him all the live-long day and I don’t have much to add. As of January 2020, we’re in the middle of the democratic primary.
There’s a lot of heavy Trump-bashing during these debates; that I can report to you from the past. The bashing is warranted on the guy’s policies alone. Climate change denial, not to sound like a broken record, is truly unforgivable.
But I think everyone on those primary debate stages should be required to answer this question: “What about America have you learned from the rise of Donald Trump?” If you can’t answer that without using a synonym of “deplorable,” then what business do you have bashing him?
Clearly, a huge number of Americans really love the guy. I’ll tell you what I learned from him or at least what suspicion I had about the electorate that was confirmed: all else equal, people want the occupant of the Oval Office to be an entertainer.
The POTUS, whoever they are, is constantly in the news. There is always some publicized drama surrounding the commander in chief. As someone who has forsworn TV, movies, sports, and fiction, I can speak for myself in saying that political drama fills a large portion of my own need for entertainment. So-and-so said this! So-and-so vetoed that! So-and-so’s reaction to this and that was... such and such! I can’t look away.
Fine. It is what it is. But if I’m going to let politics serve as entertainment, then at least a small part of my motivation in picking a president is picking a good entertainer. That is why I think people love Donald Trump. The man is indubitably entertaining.
From a purely entertainment-focused perspective, who would you rather have cast in a feature film that you’re forced to watch for four to eight years? Barack or Mitt? Bush or Gore? DJT or HRC? Reagan or whoever the other guy was? Come on, the formers, any day! Obama: how witty and cerebral! Bush: how downright affable! Clinton: what a fucking G! Trump: dude’s an actual stand-up comedian! And in all cases, their political opponents were polished stiffs.
People overcomplicate elections. In practice, the more naturally funny candidate wins. Don’t get me wrong. Policy should be what you decide on. If Gore had been elected, maybe life on Earth would have had a chance at long-term survival. Had Hill-hill won, surely many, many fewer people would have perished from COVID-19.
But at the voting booth, policy, I suspect, is not paramount on swing voters’ minds. They’re just playing casting director for the country’s lead actor.