United States – How can Donald Trump become US president?
I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling for a long time. It helps that the first wrestling boom that leaked over into the mainstream culture came about right around my pre-teen years in the mid-1980s. That was the era of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Macho Man Savage, and tons of others.
Wrestling is the kind of thing you go in-and-out on, it’s a male-targeted soap opera that isn’t hard to pick up even if you stop watching for years. I again found wrestling in my early 20s, that is, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, around the time of what is now called “The Attitude Era,” when WWE Wrestling — the dominant brand in the business — decided to produce hard-edged “extreme” stories and characters.
So I’m something of a connoisseur of wrestling’s rhythms, archetypes, tropes, presentation methods, and overall milieu.
What is amazing is that politics follows tons of these same rhythms. Often I’ve been able to figure out just where a political moment is heading because I’ve seen almost exactly the same move before, only instead of it being executed by Stone Cold Steve Austin, the provocateur was Senator Harry Reid.
So, let’s explore just how the squared circle of wrestling just might be the hidden key behind American politics.
Faces & Heels
Wrestling thrives on the audience allying themselves for or against a colorful personality. In the most basic sense, wrestlers are either “faces” or “heels,” aka good guys and bad guys. Unlike real life there is no in-between.
But contrary to how it might sound initially, it isn’t “bad” for a wrestler to be a heel. In reality, some of the most memorable wrestling characters who are considered amongst the all-time greats were heels at one point or another in their careers (Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mr. McMahon, Gorilla Monsoon, The Million Dollar Man for instance).
In politics, we have these archetypes as well. The only slight difference is that often the face or heel signfier is not a universal description. For many Democrats, President Obama is the ultimate “face,” while for Republicans the politician that currently fits the “face” archetype is probably Ronald Reagan. Of course, for either party, the face of the other party is often the “heel.”
To Republicans, figures like President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton are total heels, willing to win at any cost, even if it means breaking the rules. Democrats would probably say they feel like that about many Republicans, including someone like former House Majority Tom DeLay. As a Democrat myself, DeLay feels like a perfect “heel.” He wasn’t interested in getting over with his base as a nice guy, and he was willing to do whatever he could get away with as the referees were distracted in order to give his team a leg up (like redistricting in order to gerrymander seats for his party).
Stables are the various factions that wrestlers belong to, sort of like teams. Alliances like The Four Horsemen, the New World Order (NWO), the Corporation, and Degeneration X were all wildly popular at one time or another in wrestling history.