I wrote a novel entitled “The iCandidate” where a former Green Beret turned teacher runs for Congress with the help of his students. While there was certainly a quality about that requiring suspension of disbelief, I received reviews labeling it as everything from “far―fetched” to “unrealistic. Maybe they are right, but if the American people have learned anything over the past year, it’s that politics is stranger than fiction.
A Case Study
Case in point: a novel I could have written instead of The iCandidate four years ago. Here’s the synopsis:
An eccentric billionaire turned reality television show host, with a knack for bombastic and inappropriate statements, uses his wealth and notoriety to make a run the presidency. With no experience and competing in a field crowded with high-profile politicians that includes the son of an ex-president, he coasts through the primary to win his party’s nomination.
When the media turns on him, and multiple scandals rock his fledgling campaign, he must excite American voters with an upbeat message filled with populist tones to narrow the gap in the polls. As the general election approaches, can he go on defeat the presumptive winner, a mainstay in American politics facing her own scandals, or will the American public choose to hand her the reins of the government like her husband before her?
Okay, in the interests of full disclosure, I didn’t think of this idea five years before Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the 46th president. If I had, I imagine it would have garnered the same reaction The iCandidate has. It would have been greeted with a chorus of “that could never happens.” It has the feel of political fiction and could never be real.
Politics is Stranger than Fiction
The November election did happen. For the legions of Trump supporters, it was vindication and a much-needed course correction after eight years of feckless leadership under Barack Obama. For Clinton supporters, it was outrage. A supremely qualified woman lost what should have been a winnable election. Now the United States will suffer at least four years of fear over what an unqualified, unstable, and inarticulate buffoon can do to ruin this country.
Each side has passionate opinions about the man in office. For both sides, the Trump presidency has been surreal in very different ways.
How the Story Ends
As an author, I can think of dozens of way the Trump presidency ends. For those riding the Trump Train, I can write about a world where America realizes he isn’t a racist ideologue and rallies around him as he pushes Congress to pass bills that enhance the lives of everyday Americans. A man who quells the civil war in Syria and pulls the nuclear teeth from Kim Jong-un’s North Korea. A president who fosters a strong economy and creates millions of jobs. One who stops illegal immigration, streamlines legal immigration, and gives hope to those law-abiding undocumented workers relegated to hiding in the shadows. One who rises to become the one of the greatest presidents in modern history.
I can also write the flip side of that coin. Two years of amateur political leadership and a strongly divided nation leads to ineffectual government. Successes are overshadowed by a long string of failures and the pledge to “drain the swamp” only saw the murky waters replaced by a cesspool of nepotism and cronyism. Enough was enough, and when the Democrats win the House in 2018, they immediately move for impeachment proceedings. While the vote to remove fails in the Senate, Trump is rendered politically immobile and announces his decision not to run in 2020.
What’s the point?
The two endings I described are equal parts plausible and implausible, and the perception of either is colored by the reader’s personal ideology and feelings. Most likely, when the story of the Trump presidency is over, it will fall somewhere in between what is written above.
The point is that the story will end. It’s unlikely the Trump presidency will end the world, despite the rhetoric. If you feel compelled to resist, resist. If you are riding the Trump Train, blow the horn. Whichever side you are on, listen and respect the opinions of those who disagree with you. Open yourselves to debate on the facts, not on the raw emotions.
Most of all enjoy the ride. Be vigilant and question everything, but also give credit where credit is due. One way or another, the Trump presidency will end. When it’s Kim Kardashian running against Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino from The Jersey Shore for the White House, we may miss the days of Donald Trump. Don’t laugh, because it could happen. After all, politics is stranger than fiction.