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Politics as Reality Show: The 2016 Republican Frankenstein Monster: Worthy of a Fellini Film
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2015-08-10 11:47:21
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“You are fired!” as part of Donald Trump’s Reality Show

There is a tragi-comedy, worthy of a Fellini film, going on in American politics as we speak. It has been in the making for some time now. It would be hilarious and entertaining as a reality show, were it not so sad for what it portents for the nation as a whole. Indeed, the founding fathers of this polity called the United States of America must be turning in their graves at the sight of this tragi-comic spectacle.

The best metaphor I can imagine to describe it is that of Frankenstein, the monster who eventually turns on his maker. The monster can be succinctly described as the gradual transformation of the Republican party from a serious contender in American politics to a reality show abetted by the media who thrives on those entertaining popular shows; first among them Fox News whose oxymoronic motto of what it foments is “fair and balanced.”


Sarah Pelin as part of the Reality Show

The development of the monster begins with the last few election cycles. The year 2008 marks a political tsunami for America constituted by an economic downturn on the watch of  the Bush administration, which almost landed the nation into another tragic depression; the disturbing realization that America had engaged in two failed wars and had in the process lost lives, treasure and diplomatic prestige; the prospect, which became a reality, of the election of a black president which caused a great number of middle aged, middle class white males to panic thus causing the demagoguery of the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, which in turn created the Tea Party and the “Birther Movement” declaring a legally elected president an illegitimate usurper. 

The champion of that movement was of course Donald Trump, the rich billionaire, half clown, half dictator, the white middle aged man who now is on top of all the polls for the Republican party. Not many in the Republican party decried the outrageous accusations against President Obama he dishes out at the time. So the monster kept on growing and expanding. The last presidential campaign saw the voice of thoughtful moderate Republicans such as Jon Huntsman drown out by the ideological fanatics.


Michelle Beckmann, another notable of the Reality Show

So now we have the incredible spectacle of 17 GOP presidential candidates, at last count, competing for headlines as to who is going to come out with the most outrageous statement. Besides continuing with the targeting of a sitting president and the Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton, they have targeted Hispanics, Muslims, women, socialists, civil rights and human rights workers. As it was to be expected, the monster began turning on its makers. They are now targeting personal insults at each other, competing, as best as they can, with the master of rhetorical outrageous slanderous statements who is getting most of the media’s attention and feeds off the anger being displayed. So we have a veritable circus, a campaign based on xenophobia, personal attacks and boorish taunts.

While Trump continues his rant against the “illegals,” Ted Cruz calls his party’s legislative leader “a liar” and he does so on the floor of the Senate, Scott Walker accuses his party leaders of making false promises, Mike Huckabee charges that the Iran nuclear harms deal was the equivalent of marching Israelis into ovens, Marco Rubio insults Trump saying that he has no class and we don’t need another president without class, we already have one.


Ted Cruz as part of the Fellini Circus

The next major spectacle will take place at the beginning of August with the first GOP debate to which Fox New has arbitrarily invited only the first 10 in the average poll ratings of the 17th candidates. The 7 left out now feel that they must increase their insults and rhetorical excesses to draw the media’s attention. Of course the core problem lies with the base of what has become today’s Republican party: a reality show competition reflecting the mind-set of those who are having fun while venting their anger and frustration. One can see a Fellini directing this film and exclaiming: and now bring in the clowns.


Mike Huckabee and the Evangelicals, another notable of the Reality Show

So the monster has turned against its makers and is ready to devour them. Some of them are still under the illusion that they can easily ride out to victory while continuing to feed the monster with anger and frustration. Jeb Bush still believes that as a moderate Republican, that like Romney he too will come up on top, but he seems to have forgotten that the Romney that emerged in 2012 was not a moderate Republican, he too had been transformed into a Frankenstein monster with little resemblance to the Republican party of old.

Time will tell of course. My suspicion at this stage of the tragi-comedy, with the monster fully developed and still angry and hungry, sanity will not return so easily, that 2016 will be the year of the ideological billionaires such as Donald Trump, the Tea Party, the extremist evangelical right. What may well came to pass, is that Hillary Clinton will laugh all the way to the White House while the Republicans stage their entertaining circus. In the end the Frankenstein monster will have devoured its makers and that will be in some way poetic justice. The biggest loser in all this will the country who will have degraded a serious political exercise as devised in the country’s constitution to the level of an entertaining reality show.


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