Earlier this year, I posted here about how the presidential primaries were much like a reality show. That seems like a lifetime ago, and now that the race is down to the two main parties and a few others that may get more votes this time around than ever before, the 2016 presidential election is much more like a soap opera than a reality show.
Like all good soap operas—if there really is such a thing—certain characters and story lines always show up. Two adversaries who used to be friends (apparently) are battling it out for the highest office in the nation. On the one hand, is Hillary Clinton. From the media’s point of view and her own, she’s the eternal victim. A poor struggling female who, as a young woman, attached herself to a slick but charismatic hillbilly from Arkansas that ended up being the President of the United States.
As she is portrayed in the daily series given by the mainstream media, Hillary is much put-upon and deserves to be president. The Democrat party owes this to her for sticking by her lecherous husband while he was the Arkansas governor, and then after that when he was the philandering president caught having an improper relationship with a White House intern not much older than his own daughter. Hillary, always calculating her own political future, blamed her husband’s troubles on a “vast right-wing conspiracy”, and stuck around, enabling him in his philandering and even being the one to personally denigrate the women he used for his personal playgrounds. In all of this, Hillary championed herself as a defender of women.
After leaving the White House, she and her husband set up residence in New York City in order for her to run for a senate seat there. She chose New York for its ultra-liberal constituents (the city, not the state), and she knew she would need those electoral votes to win the presidency someday.
The soap opera took an unexpected turn as they so often do back in 2008, when Hillary, poised to be the first woman president, lost her opportunity when a young whippersnapper named Obama swooped in and legions of voters who were supposed to vote for her made him the first African-American president. In Obama’s early years as president, he made Hillary his Secretary of State, at least for a time. That was all she agreed to do, knowing that she would need time to run for president again once 2016 rolled around.
When it finally did, the soap opera continued as Hillary battled it out for her party’s nomination with a full-out admitted socialist played by Bernie Sanders (as opposed to a closet socialist like herself). In spite of many years of scandals that were more than just tabloid rumors—her mediocre record as a senator, her many severe lapses in judgement as Secretary of State, and her frivolous lack of care of classified emails—she became the Democrat nominee for president.
Her worst fear was to be running against a Republican from a different generation than herself. Fresh faces with new ideas and more Millennial appeal such as Rand Paul, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio had her campaign shaking in its shoes, as was proven by more October surprises from the now-ever-present WikiLeaks.
Right on cue, however, the Republicans relieved her fears by nominating the candidate she most wanted to go up against: the boisterous real estate mogul-turned-reality show star named Donald Trump. Once a strong supporter of Hillary’s previous political campaigns, Trump appealed to those Republican voters in the primaries who have felt ignored by everyone in Washington for years. Portraying himself as the Every Man Candidate who “tells it like it is”, and helped along by an over-zealous media anxious to see a Clinton-Trump race—millions flocked to his rallies.
The voters, in their understandable anger, turned out in droves for the primaries to vote for the orange guy with weird hair. Others, such as Cruz and Rubio, put up a good fight but were unable—even with some of the most conservative voters—to overcome the adolescent name-calling (“Lyin’ Ted”, “Little Marco”), the media that pushed hard for Trump, and the voters who saw them as Washington insiders and therefore part of the problem.
As was written in that post from months ago, I said that whoever won the Republican nomination would then be taken down by the media when it came to the race against Hillary. The mainstream media is a major character in this drama because they are like the “bad girl” who does whatever she has to in order to get a man, only to drop him for the man (or in this case, woman) she really wants at the first opportunity. The guy who got dumped never seems to realize that she never wanted him all along.
Added to the chaos of the story have been Hillary’s health problems (even some rumors of a Healthy Hillary twin–an interesting twist to the soap opera staple of the Evil Twin); and more October surprises for Trump in the form of his alleged bawdy shenanigans with several women who just happened to come forward at this time to talk about his mistreatment of them. (This is where a good soap opera writer would throw ominous background music into the script and leave the audience hanging).
Much of the audience—the American voters—are hanging. With less than two weeks until Election Day, millions of people have already cast their ballots, and others are just putting off the inevitability of “picking our poison” for as long as possible. They’re scratching their heads wondering where all those women and convenient videotapes of Trump were during the primary, wondering why Hillary isn’t in jail…wondering how we ended up here. Out of more than 300 million people, is this the best we could do?
The thing is, whether you pick the poisonous berry over the poisonous mushroom, you’re still going to get very, very sick.
Today is Super Tuesday Eve. Twelve states and American Samoa will have their primaries to select candidates for the presidency tomorrow. This has been a weird ride as far as elections go, and has all the elements of a hit reality TV show.
There’s a conniving bad girl (Hillary Clinton) who always seems to get her way (and stays out of jail), even as she’s being challenged by a guy with a funny accent (Bernie Sanders) who tells all the kids that if they just pick him—everything will be free (except them). But on the Democrat side, a contest between two aging hippies—one a self-proclaimed socialist, and the other a secret socialist— is not that compelling of a plot for this reality producer. The real dramatics are on the Republican side.
As all reality shows do, it started with a large cast of characters that unlike the Democrats, was really pretty diverse. As time goes on and the stories develop around each person, they rise and fall in popularity…then one by one, they drop out. Amid all the twists and turns of the story, an occasional cameo appearance is made by former reality stars (Sarah Palin), who show up to support veterans of the genre (Trump).
So the primaries are sort of like elimination episodes. After each primary, one or two candidates realize they have no chance to win the nomination, and they bow out. Now, we’re left with these five:
*Dr. Ben Carson– The kind-hearted Brainiac; Will he keep pressing on after tomorrow, even if he doesn’t win anywhere? Or will he leave the race and support one of the winners of previous primaries?
* Ted Cruz– The Underdog Constitutionalist/ Resident Geek; the only candidate with a Super Power (audio-graphic memory). Is he really the biggest liar that Donald Trump has ever met? Trump claims he is (until he later decided Marco Rubio is also the biggest liar), but given that source, it’s highly unlikely. Can he continue to take the fiery darts thrown at him by the other top candidates, and will voters respond in kind?
*John Kasich– The Guy from Ohio; He’s the fly-under-the-radar sort of reality show character who most people forgot about early on but he somehow ends up in the finale of the show. He may win his home state, but does anyone know why he’s still in the race? Does he know?
*Marco Rubio– The “Nice Guy, But…”; Will his tainted past on immigration (Gang of Eight) and status as the Establishment Guy doom him to hoping for a cabinet spot in the Trump administration, or—worse yet—vice president? Is he, as Trump claims, too sweaty to be president? Will he keep reading Trump’s Twitter rantings out loud on the campaign trail? Will he team up with Ted Cruz to form the ultimate Non-Trump ticket?
*Donald Trump– The Flamboyant, Colorful Cast Member; The man currently at the top of the heap, he claims to be an outsider, a non-politician—but is he really? He’s admitted to supporting left-wingers–like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi–that should make any Tea Partier cringe, and says he wants to “make deals”. I thought people were sick of all these kinds of back room deals that gave us disasters like Obamacare. Will this name-calling, misogynistic, billionaire philandering philanthropist continue to court Evangelical Christians and make them believe he’s one of them, in spite of his admission that he’s never needed to ask God for forgiveness? Does it bother him that an infamous KKK member (David Duke) is supporting him? Could he really commit murder and not lose a vote?
* Evangelical Christians/ Religious Folks– Will they show up at the polls, or will they be so disgusted that they sit out like they did in 2008 and 2012, giving us Barack Obama? Will they vote their principles, or —like the “Obamatons” of previous elections that they once criticized—will they just want change without caring about character?
I’ve heard there once was a time when no one knew who the nominees were from each party until they actually held their conventions in the summer. It seems ridiculous that on Wednesday, we should already know who the nominees are when most voters haven’t even gotten an opportunity to vote…eight months before Election Day.
Whatever happens tomorrow, other primaries still remain and the saga will continue to unfold as two eventual nominees face off. Then comes the reality show sequel: “Election 2016: The Media Takedown of [insert Republican nominee here].”