01.03.2016 FMBE has not been political before now but this essay came our way and we are putting it out there. It speaks of fan/voter behaviour at least.
Why politics is the new gameshow
Today is Super Tuesday only it doesn’t feel so very Super. There is a horrible inevitability about the rise of Donald Trump. His emergence as a seemingly unstoppable force comes as voters finally blur without distinction the race for the White House with the race for the Big Brother house. Who gets the presidency? YOU decide!
Trump is the ultimate reality TV candidate, who has grown to prominence with nothing more beguiling than the shouted out promise to ‘always be himself’ His on screen persona is a ridiculous and exaggerated caricature. For all of his ‘reality’ no one knows a real person like him. Such a person would be ushered out of the pub for having had one too many.
Of course reality TV is old school. It lost its spice long ago. Voting people out of the Big Brother House has become a hobby for the most moribund minority and X-Factor may as well rebrand as Z-Factor now but the desire for ‘I was only speaking my mind’ and ‘I tell it like it is’ heroes and villains is stronger than ever.
What could be more exciting to vote on than TV characters? Real characters in real politics, of course.
Goldfish bowl TV’s legacy is to have skewed forever our attention span to favour of the purveyor of the controversial soundbite, the person who takes the least possible editing in order to gift the press and online media with a new story.
Few truly watch the live TV debates anymore, they are edited to show off the best gags and putdowns and to merit passion over substance.
Troll support becoming real support
‘Real’ TV people make big careers off shocking opinion – just ask Katie Hopkins – and they always have reserve careers as Internet trolls and clickbait. They polarise the core vote but the strongest believers bond with them with unshakable loyalty, accepting the latest embarrassing statement, unqualified position, racial or misogynistic affront with outward delight and seal-clapping fervour. Those are the people that sit behind Trump at the rallies. The same sheeple used to attend the live evictions or could be relied upon to ‘pick up your phones and vote now’ at premium rate.
Rest-assured the Trump faithful will come out to vote. Barbed wire polling booths wouldn’t stop them.
Starting to Win-Win
Typically that confident vote then snowballs. The supporters who find the new hardliner voice so refreshing then find themselves joined by a ghoulish assembly of bigots. In Trump’s case every outsider from Ku Klux to the Westboro Baptists have now found a candidate to rejoice in.
In the reality TV model, outsider status support levels would not be enough to get them to win the whole series though, but fortunately a next wave of support can be tapped. It comes from people who just love a winner, WHOOP. Our populist idol will then use those ‘winning’ words a lot, reinforcing each stage win, and who they beat, or who they intend to beat next time. A scary percentage of the modern electorate just want to bask in the smug satisfaction of backing a winner.
Multi-Party vs a choice of two
In real politics witnessing this ‘reality’ voting pattern can be alarming. The UK’s Nigel Farage, France’s Marine Le Pen follow on from Austria’s Jörg Haider. All are, or in crash victim Haider’s case were, very good on TV. Fortunately none of them have Trump’s massive head start of hosting a top rating TV show. Nor are they billionaires (though Haider was loaded) so they can’t buy the ads to fill the gaps between media shark feeds. Compared to Trump, they offer much less of a threat and can safely be laughed at –but only for now.
Unfortunately for Farage or Le Pen, these are voices in countries where there are multiple parties on offer. Shameful though it is that 1 in 4 Frenchman empathise enough with the National Front to vote for them, the centre ground can, and has, closed them out from actual power. One centre party generally steps aside to allow the anti-hate vote to merge. In Britain and in Austria too, these outspoken angry loose cannons have found support splintering in the ballot box.
Not so in the US. If we follow the Reality TV model then Trump’s elevation to the last two is inevitable as boringly acceptable establishment candidates like Jeb Bush (gone) and the worthy Ohio Governor John Kasich get voted out round by round.
Republican vs Democrat is catch-all, sadly
In the big final 2, traditional Republicans will have the stark choice of abandoning their historical family principles of low tax and a strong military in favour of voting for a long-established and much hated adversary.
In other words moderate Republicans can vote for the auld enemy or they can vote for the man who assumes their neighbours are rapists and thinks that women with difficult questions to ask must be on their periods.
The two party system in the US offers no protection from the extremes. It means that moderate Republicans will either tick the same box as the Ku Klux Klan or to be the turkeys who vote for a Democrat Christmas. Or they can forgo entirely the hard fought right to vote…
It is a stark and impossible choice that is inevitably coming. And so Trump can win. And just with Reality TV, other lookalike Trumps around the world will see what he has done and generate more ‘winner’ support. And so it may very well go, bringing a raft of extremist success, some of whom will be fascist and some communists and some will invent brand new extremes to represent.
The really gloomy bit
And we, quakingly, had better hope those nukes uphold their deterrent status once again. Except this time the cold war looks uncomfortably hot. There is a hard-baked Islamic State at the epicentre now and the men and women who love fame at all costs are so nearly in reach of the big red button. The gap between fame and infamy is narrower than ever.
And what can we do about it? Every time Trump gets mentioned his currency goes up. We are feeding a powerful troll. Articles such as this one, necessary as alarm bells though they may be, will also have the opposite effect on many to that intended and add fuel to this unhinged blaze.
People will read this and it will help them to decide to vote Trump. How depressing is that?
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