Earlier today, my friend Shelby, posted a Facebook link to a pretty good analysis of American politics in terms of professional wrestling by Oliver Willis. It’s well written and very smart. Willis does an excellent job of breaking down the current political landscape and inserting it into his professional wrestling framework. I feel like my friends AJ, Dan, Patrick and the other members of my professional wrestling academic scholarship group (yes, this is really a thing) should probably track him down and invite him to join us. The reason I love this argument is because politics, like wrestling, is among my six favorite sports (in no particular order: politics, pro-wrestling, poker, football, gymnastics, and ninja warrior — ok, who are we fooling, ninja warrior is the best, and this whole political race would be so much better if we just crowned a president by seeing who could make it to the top of Mt. Midoriyama). But, Willis missed one very important pro-wrestling concept in his analysis. The Swerve! And, by God today Mitt Romney kicked off maybe the best swerve angle of all time.
Just about six months ago, I proclaimed Donald Trump the best thing that ever happened to American politics. My reasoning was pretty simple. I saw him as indicative of what I have long considered a problem with the two party political system. When you reduce the complex political spectrum into only two choices you create a situation where to be electable, essentially no one can ever get the candidate they want. You necessarily invoke the law of averages. Instead of your favorite candidate, the system gets set up so that you find the person who is least offensive to everyone on that side. This means that over time the two parties have amassed memberships who are sort of taken for granted. The Democrats say “hey, being liberal is important to you, so you better be over here” and the Republicans say “being conservative to you is important, so you better be over here.” Neither party has really given a thought to what being “liberal” or “conservative” really even means in years. That’s why there are so many litmus tests: Oh, you’re pro-choice…well, you better vote for the democrat! Oh, you’re a big assault rifle enthusiast… you better vote for republicans! Wait, you like guns and you want to have legal abortions? Well make up your mind you fucking freak!!!
I’ve been saying for the last few weeks that the most amazing thing about Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is that they’re really the same guy. A lot of people disagree with me on that, because their politics are disparate. But that doesn’t matter. The success of both Bernie and the Donald is that they’ve discovered the secret. There are a lot of people who have been taken for granted by the parties. In fact, there are more people who are taken for granted than there are members of the base. If you can energize these people and actually get them to come out and support you, hijacking the nomination is very possible. When I talked about Trump back in September I said that his success was going to come from him energizing the DudeBro vote! DudeBros don’t give a shit about defunding planned parenthood. DudeBros don’t particularly care if a bunch of gay people want to get married. Even the most homophobic DudeBro basically says “wait, two dudes want to marry each other? Neither of them wants to stick it in my butt? How is this my problem? Do you even lift, bro?” DudeBros also don’t care if their politicians are obnoxious. In fact, they kind of like it. This is why Trump gets more support the more of a dick he is. Every time he attacks someone in the establishment — the very establishment that has “held down the DudeBro” for so many generations — he gets chastised by the establishment for basically being an ass. Which, makes him look sympathetic to the DudeBro. And they get votes. Their votes count just as much as anyone else’s! And they should!
Bernie is actually doing the same thing. He is just targeting a different underrepresented demographic — The Social Justice Warrior! Yeah, I know,.. I know… people hate being called that. You know what, I don’t think DudeBros are terribly fond of that label either. Deal with it. The thing is, I pretty much am an SJW. I am the target demographic that Bernie is going after. Hell, if anything I don’t think he goes far enough. I find him to be pretty damn conservative for my tastes (granted, I’m nuts). But anyway, Bernie’s popularity is firmly based on his persona as an outsider: “Are you fed up with business as usual by the government. I’m going to fix all of that! Free healthcare and college for everyone!!!!” If you look at the criticism that Bernie and Trump get from within their own parties, it’s mostly the same “your message is too simple. Your idealism is impractical. We can’t do what you’re proposing. There’s no way we’re going to [build a wall, kick out all the muslims, make college free, have socialized healthcare].” And if you look at the responses of staunchest supporters and ignore what the actual issue is they’re fighting for, you’ll see that they basically say the same thing “[Bernie,Trump] is fighting for the people. He is telling it like he is. Why is the media against him? Don’t you see that if we all band together we will win!” In a way, the SJWs and the DudeBros are doing the exact same thing. They want their votes to count. They want their voices heard. They want their actual opinions to matter beyond just being an additional number to bolster a platform that they sorta kinda maybe tenuously agree with. They want to not be taken for granted and they’ve finally found candidates who are listening to them. And that’s a good thing!
Where Donald succeeded and Bernie has failed so far was with his absolute devotion. I watch every single debate… Sometimes I watch them twice. I am addicted to this stuff. One of the greatest moments of this election season so far was in the second (I believe) Republican debate, the moderators asked all the candidates if they were willing to pledge to support whoever the eventual nominee was and not run as a 3rd party candidate once the selection was made. Every Republican raised their hand save one, Donald Trump. The moderator asked again and Donald said “I understood the question.” The moderator pressed further “are you saying, here at a Republican primary debate that you might run against the eventual candidate as a third party even though practically every political analyst agrees that if you did so, that would virtually guarantee Hillary Clinton the presidency?” and Donald responded “I understood the question. I know exactly what I am saying. And my response is that I cannot make that decision because it would depend on who the nominee is. I will not blindly pledge my support to anyone.” A week later, the democratic candidates were asked the same question. All of them, including Bernie Sanders, agreed that they would not do this because anyone of them on their stage “would be a better president than anyone on the other side.”
This has been the key difference between Bernie and the Donald. Both agree that the country, in their eyes, is fundamentally broken. Both blame their own parties for failing to represent the needs of the American people correctly. Both believe they have the formula for fixing it. Both have devoted supporters, some from within the party and many who they have been brought into the fold for the first time because they feel like someone is finally listening to their message. Both have detractors within the party who feel that they are outsiders whose views are too radical from the established message and are likely to award the race to the other side. Bernie is not willing to take that chance. This says to his supporters “we’re right. We need to win. But if we can’t win, well, this other idea ain’t that bad.” Trump on the other other hand, has basically said to his supporters “we’re right. We need to win. And if we can’t win, we will burn this fucker to the ground.”
This is why the Republican establishment hates Trump so much. It’s not because he’s belligerent. Ted Cruz is just as much so. Chris Christie as well. And they certainly don’t hate his actual politics… The other remaining candidates’ visions vary just as widely from the established ones (in their own ways) as Trump’s do. Trump is hated because he can’t be controlled. No one knows what the fuck Trump will do from day to day once he is president. I doubt even Donald Trump knows what the fuck he will do. And he doesn’t care. If you are in the business of being an establishment, that’s scary. If you are someone who hates the establishment — because you feel like it takes you for granted even though it relies on you, Donald Trump is the most exciting thing that has happened in your life!
That brings us to today. What Mitt Romney did in his speech today is amazing. It is the most amazing thing to ever happen in politics in my lifetime… and I just saw a black dude get elected president a few years ago… TWICE! Romney is explicitly calling for a brokered convention. He didn’t endorse a candidate. He said vote for the best establishment candidate in your state. Force a brokered convention. That way we can stop the guy who is winning the popular vote and stop our party from being taken over. Romney is literally begging the remaining voters to say “we recognize that most of us are ignorant children who don’t know what’s best for us. So we are voting to give you the power to override the popular decision and make the right one for us.”
On the Democrat side, a lot of Bernie supporters are getting upset because people are writing him off. They are getting upset because they don’t think super delegates are fair. What I think people don’t understand is that the super delegate system exists EXACTLY to stop someone like Bernie or like Trump. The fact that I happen to agree with Bernie on a great many issues is irrelevant. The Democratic party has a mission statement that Bernie doesn’t wholeheartedly agree with. He wants to change it. He says so. That’s why his fans like him. Super delegates make up a 15% voting block. They exists to stop an outsider from coming in an hijacking the party. IF Bernie can bring in enough new blood to beat Hillary 65% to 35% then he has effectively changed the face of the party. Good for him! But if it is 60-40, the Democratic party wants a safety button to save their ideology from what could be a passing fad. Yes, I get that that feels unfair. But remember until last year Bernie wasn’t a Democrat. Remember, Trump used to be. If Trump had decided to run as a Democrat and Bernie had stayed an independent, and Trump had come in with the exact same message and brought his DudeBro voters with him, he could very well be narrowly beating Hilary right now and most Bernie supporters would be very thankful for the super delegate safety rip cord.
I am no fan of Mitt Romney. But he’s not completely stupid, nor is the GOP establishment that he was speaking on behalf of. Like Trump at the debate several months ago Romney is effective saying “I know exactly what I am saying.” He knows that he is energizing the Trump faithful even more. He knows that there is a risk that what he did today will be just enough to propel Trump to the nomination. He knows that if he is successful and he stops Trump from hitting the magic number just so the RNC can steal the nomination from him he’s going to make an enemy of Trump and BEST CASE lose the DudeBro vote, and worse case make Trump run as an independent who starts a DudeBro party, which as the analysts said effectively guaranteeing Hillary Clinton a win. But what Mitt and the GOP establishment have also realized is that they’re at the end of the line here. They have learned their lesson from Donald Trump. If you want to win in this new political climate then tell the voters “Look, we’re going for it. And if we lose, we will burn this fucker to the ground!”
Today, Mitt Romney changed the game. This isn’t just politics. It isn’t even pro-wrestling anymore. This is a Texas Hold’em situation. The GOP has an eight in their hand and Aces and Eights are on the board with the river still to come. Today, Mitt Romney held a press conference where he said “All in! Let the whole thing ride!” And if they lose so be it…
Welcome to the fucking game, Mitt!