Why does Donald Trump make me smile? Well, I think he’s doing brilliantly.
Let me explain.
To understand, I need you to think of WWE. That’s World Wrestling Entertainment (used to be World Wrestling Federation). Back in its heyday, the WWF was addictive and compulsive viewing. In the late 1980s I loved it.
Wrestling had just been two fat yet athletic blokes, er, wrestling in the ring. For years they’d maybe just have their own walk-on music and some kind of dress gimmick, but that all stopped once they were in the ring, and just got on with the relatively boring act of, well, wrestling.
What the WWF managed to do was to add a level of the surreal in order to hype up the matches and the supposed reasoning behind the ‘feud’ that led to an over anticipated in-ring battle.
The fact that those duelling would be laughing, drinking and eating together before and after their public appearance, or travel on the same coach to and from the venues, is something that wouldn’t be noticed by the public. Nor would the time spent in the gym together practising their moves be known.
Yet, the public would see this surreal feud unfold at ringside week after week, culminating in a battle, usually at a ‘major event’ in the wrestling world. The public would see other wrestlers take sides, or get involved in some unexpected way, building to a different feud. Wrestlers who were baddies are known as ‘heels’, whilst the good guys are ‘faces’. Most wrestlers would spend time as a ‘heel’, then next season would be ‘faces’, swapping back and forth over the years in order to keep the public interest.
Kids would ‘believe’ that what they were watching was ‘real’, whilst adults (like me) would watch it purely for the belly laugh entertainment value of how the out of ring feuds unfolded. But, it worked as a way of grouping and polarising supporters and fans.
So, there was a time when Donald Trump got involved in the WWE, most notably in 2007 when in the “Battle of the Billionaires” at an event called ‘Wrestlemania 23’, the culmination of the ‘feud’ between himself and Vince McMahan, the owner of the WWE empire, ended up with him shaving McMahan’s hair off. Yep, silly, but compulsive viewing.
But, and here’s the thing, Trump understood how the surreal side of this modern version of wrestling worked, and he played his part really well and convincingly.
Now, when it comes to the ‘feuding’ and ‘battles’ of standing as a candidate for election to President of the United States of America, Trump is using exactly the same methodology as the WWE uses.
That’s right, he takes everything to a point of being surreal, being completely made-up, not following the usual rules and protocols, and, guess what, it works. It attracts exactly the same kind of Americans. It attracts fans of the WWE, people that ‘believe’ with a complete engagement that isn’t normally seen in politics.
How will it be derailed? Well, like any good WWE feud, the other side (Clinton’s) will have to bring out ringside (well, debate-side) something outrageous and surreal. Maybe challenging his track record with women?
Then and only then, Clinton will trump Trump.