Around the time the sun was setting on That 70’s Show and Ashton Kutcher’s career, he had a reality show called Punk’d. It featured Kutcher pulling crazy pranks on other celebrities, like towing away their car so they would think it was stolen. Once his target got upset enough to have a stroke, Kutcher would run toward them from somewhere off-screen, calling out, “You got punk’d!” The second Ashton’s victim spotted him, their expressions briefly said, “Oh, God. Why couldn’t the car have just been stolen?” though they would pretend to laugh it off. Kutcher called Punk’d a reality show, but if the show were realistic, the second Kutcher appeared giggling, there would be no question of the target laughing it off. The only question is whether Kutcher would leave in an ambulance or a patrol car. And that would have made for more interesting TV, don’t you think?
Anyway, where was I going with that? Oh yes. Donald Trump also had a reality show called The Apprentice, where he delighted in firing hapless would-be executives. At some point he bored of that, and decided to jump into national politics. But let’s be honest, reality tv is the new leprosy. Once you’ve been infected, normal people are afraid to have anything to do with you. No, you must be content to live with the other lepers. Donald Trump ought to be in the same little fraternity with other reality cast-offs, like Josh Duggar, John Gosselin, and the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
What if Donald Trump’s campaign is part of a reality show about being a candidate for the US presidency? Seriously. My former theory about Trump was: unbeknownst to him, the Democrats were financing his campaign with dark money and deliberately skewing the polls, allowing him to become the GOP nominee. Then he would get hammered in the general election, and lose handily to Hillary.
But like so many lying politicians, my theory has evolved. It could be more elaborate: perhaps America is getting Trump’d. Maybe Donald is still a Democrat and he’s in on the plan. He’ll walk out to make his acceptance speech as the Republican nominee, with Rosie O’Donnell on his arm, telling the GOP he’s Trump’d them, breaking their spirits and squelching their chances. They could get a different nominee but it wouldn’t matter at that point.
Love him or hate him, you must appreciate one thing about Trump. He brings up real problems other candidates on both sides of the aisle deliberately ignore. They have a gentlemen’s agreement to talk in general terms, or ignore, politically sticky problems. Trump insists on talking about them in bald terms, which forces the other candidates to take a stand. For that reason, we’ve benefitted from having him in the race even if we are being Trump’d.