Anthony J. Piccione
Let me start this column by recognizing that this is not a blog that typically discusses politics too often. I would also like to state that I am not a political analyst or commentator of any kind, nor do I have any desire or aspirations to become one. I love this blog, the diverse range of opinions that it has to offer, and the discussions that it sparks in the theatre community. I also love my position here as a writer, and am very proud to be just one of the individuals that helps to drive the discussions in the theatre community that start at this blog.
For these reasons, whenever I read any news regarding the upcoming 2016 presidential election, it is easy for me to look at someone like Donald Trump not as a politician, but rather as the theatrical performer that he really is. If you ask me, the presidential campaign of Donald Trump – as politically horrid as it may be to most people outside the far right in America – is worth examining as an example of performance art, for those of us who take interest in such performers who blend art with reality.
Let’s start by simply looking at Trump’s campaign and why so many Republicans seem to support him. For the most part, he hasn’t said much about what policies he would support as president other than deporting immigrants and building a wall around the border of Mexico. Rather, it seems largely built off of his large media personality and the image that he has among his supporters as a “strong leader” who “says it like it is.” This is clearly appealing to many conservative Republicans who think that he will fight for the political causes that are so dear to their heart.
That said, if one were to dig a bit deeper, it is clear that – while his hateful campaign rhetoric suggests otherwise – he is not quite the right-wing extremist that he wants his supporters to view him as. In the past, he has supported single-payer health care, called for higher taxes of the wealthy, and argued that the presidency of George W. Bush was a disaster. Not that he’s wrong to have said any of those things, but it does suggest that Trump isn’t quite as staunchly conservative as he is portrayed. Rather, he is just a really good actor that is playing the role of a right-wing populist.
This brings me back to my initial point, which is that the entire campaign that Trump is running is nothing more than a live performance that is playing out on cable news networks that are obsessed which such dramatic media figures and the controversy that surrounds them. I have to say, it’s actually quite brilliant. If there were an award similar to the Oscars and the Tonys for performances such as these that blend with reality, Trump should win for his ability to dupe so many people into thinking that his act is real.
Not that there’s anything joyful about watching someone spout racist and xenophobic rants on national television to thunderous applause, I might add. Yet the fact that all of these people are actually taking this man – a former reality TV host who has actually been quite inconsistent, when it comes to politics – and his presidential campaign seriously, and that they actually believe that he will win the presidency and do all the things that they’ve wanted past presidents to do is what I find to be amusing about watching this entire thing play out.
The bottom line is that Donald Trump should not be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, by any means. If he does actually manage to become President of the United States on January 20th, 2017 (which I doubt) and ends up actually doing the things he said he would do in his campaign, then I might seriously consider moving to London. However, until such a scenario actually plays out, the evidence that’s out there suggests that we should not view Donald Trump as part of the political establishment, but rather as one of us: a member of a large, diverse and sometimes eccentric community of theatrical performers.
Personally, I think it’s more complimentary to call someone a performer than to call them a politician, anyway…
This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Student, playwright, actor, poet and blogger currently based in Connecticut. To learn more about Anthony and his work, please visit his personal blog at www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to like him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage), follow him on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione) and view his work on the New Play Exchange (www.newplayexchange.org/users/903/anthony-j-piccione