Trump’s Reality Show:
Stranger Things Meets The Walking Dead
Before we examine Trump’s Reality Show let’s establish one fact: “private” and “secret” are not the same. The Republicans know full well that the House of Representatives impeachment hearings that are going on are private --- just as the Benghazi hearings were several years ago, when the Republicans ran the House. Their claim that, somehow, we are witnessing a “Soviet Union” style takeover of our government, that secret meetings are taking place are pure and utter bullshit. They know better. 47 Republicans are on the Committees hearing the testimony. “Secret?” But the actions of those 40 or so Republican Congressman yesterday was disingenuous --- some of the Animal House disruption group were actually members of the Committees and have been hearing testimony! Private hearings, yes; secret meetings? Not even close. But their action does reflect how the Trump Reality Show works.
Stranger Things is a science fiction/horror procedural (Netflix) and its first season was released on July 15, 2016 --- right in the middle of the election. For those who are not familiar with the show ,it revolves around people, particularly a group of tweens and the town’s Police Chief, in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. It seems “a portal to an alternate dimension, the Upside Down” (wiki) has been discovered in Hawkins. Without belaboring what goes on in the show, what we should consider is that the United States of America passed through a portal to an alternate “Upside Down” dimension on November 8, 2016. The ascendance of Donald Trump to the Presidency has been, for many of us, our own personal science fiction/horror Reality Show. But Stranger Things is not the only popular program Trump co-opted. No, no, no. He also noticed that The Walking Dead, a post-apocalyptic horror series was wildly popular. The idea of recruiting a Zombie Army (as Charles Blow details in today’s New York Times) would keep him popular enough to make it through his Presidency and, maybe, even gain a second term.
The Ukraine Scandal has disrupted Trump’s show, of course, but I think it’s important for those of us who continue to watch this science fiction/horror show to really look at how and why it manages to survive. As Charles Blow notes in his column (Donald Trump, Life of a Zombie Party, Oct. 23, 2019, NY Times), “Trump is the embodiment of the Republican voter and a personification of their ambitions and fears.” He continues, noting: “Trump (has made) himself into the voodoo doll of conservative politics: Whatever pain he felt, his supporters would feel, and they would object to it in unison.” Indeed, Trump’s recent appeals in his Pep Rallies is as “We,” rather than his usual “I.” As Blow so eloquently puts it: “There is no separation between the Republican Party and Donald Trump. In fact, Trump killed the old Republican Party and now he alone animates the zombie party that lurched forward after its death.” And we know who the villains of the Trump Stranger Things/Walking Dead Reality Show are: “These Democrats --- the women, the minorities, the Jewish, the gay --- are torturing the white man. And he inverted the language of anti-black white supremacist terror (lynching) to make the hollow point of white supremacist patriarchal victimhood.” (Blow, NY Times)
And that’s really where it all starts. When Blow claims Trump is the “personification of their ambitions and fears” the real focal point is fears. A recent Pew Research Study on Race in America provides some valuable insight into how the Trump cancer took root in our Body Politic. When presented with the phrase, “Race relations in the U.S. are generally bad,” 71% of Black people agreed, while only 56% of whites did. When presented with "Trump has made race relations worse” 73% of Blacks agreed, but only 49% of whites. When asked to consider “Our country hasn’t gone far enough in giving blacks equal rights with whites” 78% of Blacks agreed; only 37% of whites did. Those statements --- and the gap between white and black responses --- are at the heart of Trump’s ascendance. White privilege and white supremacy have been severely challenged as our 21st Century has progressed --- particularly with the election of Barack Obama. Trump’s challenge of Obama’s nativity was the gauntlet he threw down and white people, particularly whites who (somehow) believe they are now getting the short end of the stick in American society, have rallied around him.
The Pew Study elaborates the chasm between the political parties. When presented with the statement:
Trump’s posing as a Victim --- particularly as a rich, white, male victim --- is what appeals to his “base.” And Republican legislators are so afraid of losing their seats to a Tweetstorm , they ignore the clear evidence that “high crimes and misdemeanors” have been committed by the President of the United States. Zombie-like, they attack the process, they create their own “Fake News,” they rely on State Media/Fox News to keep their “base” in the dark, and the Trump Stranger Things/Walking Dead Reality Show moves inexorably to its impeachment showdown. How many of the Zombies will fall by the wayside before Trump faces removal (Rudy? Lev and Igor? Rick Perry? Pence?) --- who knows? Just keep your focus on the facts and the actual reality: Trump’s white supremacist appeals to his base and the cowardice of Republican elected officials when faced with their “Profile in Courage” moment are the story, the real show.