No pollster, historian, or political scientist has ever offered as succinct and accurate a definition of American politics as the one attributed to musician Frank Zappa: "Politics is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex." Perhaps it should come as no surprise that it took an entertainer to see our political system for what it is.
Neither should it surprise us that people with experience in the wrestling world (such as Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Donald "The People's Billionaire" Trump) are capable of translating that experience to success in politics.
Professional wrestling does something that all political parties attempt to do by creating a contest between a face (the good guy) and a heel (the bad guy). Before the 2016 election, however, the job of the two major political parties has been to depict their own nominees as faces and their opponents as heels.
Things are different in 2016 because the Democrats and Republicans seem to agree about who the face is (Hillary Clinton) and who the heel is (Donald Trump).
Establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans are essentially united in their support of Hillary Clinton. They can all see plainly that she's the more "presidential" candidate--so why can't the voters see it?
Why can't the voters understand that even though neither Trump nor Clinton will lift a finger as President to curtail police shootings of civilians (especially people of color), Clinton will be at least as effective as Obama when it comes to bemoaning such events as tragic?
Why can't the voters understand that even though both Trump and Clinton are lying about their opposition to the TPP, Clinton will do a better job than Trump of convincing voters, once she's in office, that it's a good idea to make our regulatory procedures subject to corporate oversight because the only way to save the American economy is by killing American democracy?
Why can't the voters understand that since the atmosphere is going to choke on carbon emissions anyway, Clinton will do a much better job than Trump of making people all over the world feel optimistic about the business opportunities associated with climate change?
Why can't the voters understand that it takes a delicate touch to use the U.S. alliance with Israel to simultaneously provoke war with Russia and Iran--and that Clinton has spent her political career developing the fine motor skills in the diplomatic fingers necessary to execute that maneuver, whereas Trump will probably bungle things and only end up going to war with one country or the other?
The answer is too simple for political pundits to understand, but right up the alley of wrestling afficianados.
The fact of the matter is that Trump has held up his end of the bargain. He has "gone over" as a heel--to the point that when people ask if Trump is serious about becoming president, his most vocal supporter in the media (Roger Stone) can get away with saying he's "fairly certain" Trump would serve as President if he were to win the election.
"Fairly certain"? C'mon now--if that isn't a guy from the crowd charging into the ring to break a chair over the head of a wrestler, what is it?
And what about yesterday's story that Trump's daughter Ivanka is under consideration as a vice-presidential candidate? That's right out of heel shenanigans 101--designed to get some folks in the audience to ooh and aah while most of the people around them boo.
Trump's longstanding relationship with Vince McMahon (of World Wrestling Entertainment) was mutually beneficial because Trump got to be in the limelight and McMahon got the services of a man who has an instinct for doing whatever it takes to go over with crowds.
But Hillary Clinton has no such instinct. She has never gone over as a face--not even in her unelected position as First Lady. There's nothing surprising about a face claiming to stand up for the rights of women and children, but it isn't enough to make the claim. Real faces--successful faces--manage to convince their audiences that they have a natural instinct to stand up for the helpless (which is difficult for Clinton to do with Marian Wright Edelman exposing Clinton's cynical reliance on her own ties to the Children's Defense Fund to sidestep criticisms that she and Bill have done more to harm vulnerable communities of color in our nation than any other couple in history--including Ronald and Nancy Reagan).
Hillary Clinton didn't go over as a face in Berta Caceres' opinion. She isn't a lovable champion of human rights in the minds of Syrians caught up in a disastrous diaspora. She didn't charm minimum wage workers in New York by refusing to support the fight for $15 until it was over.
It's time for the establishment to stop blaming voters for Clinton's failure to go over as a face.
Sure, wrestlers who are despicable human beings can come across as faces within the tightly scripted and confined world of the WWE. That's because the version of the wrestler that the WWE shows us is the only one we get to see.
But no matter how many staffers Clinton hires, she can't keep her public life as scripted and confined as is necessary for her claims of faceness to ring true. We see her for the heel that she is.
That's why it's starting to look like she'll lose to Donald Trump no matter how hard he tries to throw the match to her.