In trying to explain Donald Trump’s impending nomination, analysts have cited his skills as a reality show star. But in truth, his success — and his unpopularity — lie more in his mastery of a much less real form of entertainment, professional wrestling.
If Trump wins the presidency, it will be because he best addressed the concerns of the voters.
However, what he will be most remembered for in terms of campaigning will be his introduction of professional wrestling boorishness into the presidential race.
Watch any episode of WWE, and you’ll realize that it is professional wrestling, not reality show television, which glorifies the same insults, bullying, misogyny, and xenophobia which The Donald has brought to the campaign.
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When Trump called Ted Cruz “Lyin' Ted” or Marco Rubio “Little Marco,” he was simply channeling his inner Hulk Hogan.
It’s not surprising that Trump is so adept at wrestling rhetoric. After all, he has hosted two Wrestlemanias. He even “fought” WWE owner Vince McMahon in a hair-versus-hair match, which was billed as The Battle of the Billionaires. After Trump won, he shaved McMahon's head in the middle of the ring.
What is surprising is that such a large segment of the electorate has rewarded Trump with their votes. His broad acceptance, and even broader rejection, is reminiscent of the polarizing effect which a young Muhammad Ali brought to his sport.
In the 1960's the public was more accustomed to sportsmanship than wrestling-style showmanship, but Ali called himself “The Greatest” and taunted his opponents. Half the public ate it up, but the other half cringed.
Boxing fans ultimately bought into Ali's bellicose buffoonery, and it worked for Trump during the 17-Republican Battle Royal. It will be interesting to see how the general electorate reacts to The Trumpster when he faces his Democratic opponent in November's Main Event.
Andrew Schuster, Miami