by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Trump’s presidency is a Hollywood presidency — and it’s a comedy. Our obsession with Hollywood narrative has addled our mind when it comes to politics. We search for heroes and villains as opposed to trustworthy representatives to carry out their promises. We thrill to their rhetoric. We identify emotionally with them. And then we elect those who best manipulate our emotions to high office. Politics is no longer about channeling values toward policy; it’s now about The Bachelor–style vicarious enjoyment.
Now, politics was always both comic and tragic: comic because our politicians so often fall short of our aspirations for them, and tragic because those shortcomings have such dire consequences for so many. The possibility of comedy met its match in the possibility of tragedy — and voters focused more on averting tragedy than on enjoying the comedy. But in a country that is wealthier than any in human history, freer than any in human history, more blithe than any in human history, we want the comedy. We want celebrities we enjoy on television. Better that than listening to stodgy politicians drone on about crises they exaggerate for purposes of their own power.
And so we entertain ourselves with politics, and elect to high office those who entertain us best, and cheer when those people select the most entertaining aides. Thus Al Franken. Thus Donald Trump. Thus Kid Rock, prospectively. Thus Anthony Scaramucci, a man who once reportedly dropped $100,000 just to appear as a bit player in Wall Street 2.