Saturday, August 29, 2015

Trumpla: Political Reality TV

Trumpla: Political Reality TV

While out in DC recently I had the pleasure of running into White House Commentator/Georgetown Adjunct Professor Jon-Christopher Bua. JC covers international politics and writes for a few publications including the UK Huffington Post. We had an excellent discussion on foreign political processes, the 2016 Presidential Election, some of his work media training campaign spokespeople and his course at Georgetown 'Politics and The Media: an American-European Perspective'. One of his latest pieces you should check out is called Donald Trump vs Everyone: Do TV Debates Really Matter and to stay in tune you can follow him on twitter: @JCBua

Morton Downey Jr. Show 

In a reality tv society where the best press is bad press, all of this 'Trumpla' and his stagecraft antics have forged him into a one man Morton Downey Jr. show; a true pioneer of political trash tv. Like him or not, the guy is entertaining and represents the voice of millions of Americans who think and feel the exact same way. 

Like the 1980's era that catapulted Morton Downey Jr. into a pop culture celebrity, the same trend is happening with Donald Trump. To give you a sense of his popular culture impact consider the fact that his name has been dropped in rap lyrics at least 67 times by popular artists over the last 25 years. In terms of popularity, Trump is almost peerless in comparison to other presidential candidates except for Deez Nuts -no pun intended. Unlike Canada or other places where citizens vote for political parties represented by candidates, American citizens vote for the popular guy, not political platforms. Couple that kind of political process with an uneducated apathetic electorate and this is exactly what we see is exactly what we get.

Know Nothing Party political rhetoric  

Two things I wanted to point out about Donald Trump is his 'whig' and no nothing political platform. When I say whig I'm not talking about the spider monkey hairpiece on his head. I'm talking about his Whig Party perspectives. In the mid 1800s, the Whig Party  were known as American Patriots, anti-Democratic and took many conservative stances that would be considered 'far right' today such as occupational prestige and upper class opportunism. Eventually succeeded by the Republican Party, Whigs were also said to be many things to many people, willing to abandon core convictions for the purpose of gaining political clout. Ironically the word whig is derived from the Scottish word 'whiggamore' and Donald Trump shares Scottish ancestry; his mother Mary Anne MacLeod was from the island of Lewis on the west coast of Scotland. In regards to Trump's no nothing political platform, his views are reflective of The Know Nothing Party’s xenophobic (fear or dislike of foreigners/outsiders), anti-immigration/naturalization sentiments. Also active in the mid 1800s, The Know Nothing's were a party who viewed themselves as the true Native Americans and only accepted membership of Protestant males born of British ancestry. They were also considered semi-secret because its members were instructed to reply, “I know nothing” if asked about the Party’s activities. Unlike today, xenophobic, anti-immigration/naturalization and anchor baby sentiments are not a secret; every time Trump opens up his mouth it's clear he doesn't 'know nothing' about how to address certain national and foreign policies. 

In the final analysis I think it's important that we understand that things happen in cycles, including political philosophies. Technology wise, we just have easier access to some of the same ideologies that built or destroyed this country in the past. In order to be an educated electorate we must be aware of this. I don't have a prediction on the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election because it's still too early to tell who corporate America will choose to represent their interests. What I will say is that we cannot underestimate the power of popularity vs political platforms. A little over a decade ago the Morton Downey Jr. Show set a rachet television precedence and helped pave the way for reality television. Today we have a new kid on the block leading the same flock and it's going to be hard to trump that.

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