Now that my year abroad at Northern Arizona University is nearly at an end I find myself reflecting on all of the things I’ve seen, done and learnt. The story of the 2016 Presidential election has without a single doubt dominated my experience of American current affairs. Throughout the year I have had several conversations with American students, read several articles on The Hill, kept up to date with every primary result and watched quite a few disappointing and monotonous speeches being made by presidential contenders overusing words like “freedom” and “liberty” whilst indoctrinating the country with their generic campaign slogans. So generic are they, that I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not sure which candidate wants to “make America great again” and which candidate wants to “ignite the promise of America”… Whatever that actually means! Regardless of who said what though, I’m pretty sure that no candidate will ever come up with something as brilliant as “Feel the Bern” ever again.
So now that I consider myself an expert in U.S. politics, I wanted to help those in England to understand exactly why this election and the candidates on offer are utterly shambolic. To do this I’m going to attempt to draw a weak analogy with the conflict for the Iron Throne in the HBO fantasy series, Game of Thrones.
To start, Donald Trump is quite plainly America’s Joffrey Baratheon. The commonalities are numerous. Both come from a rich family giving them a misplaced sense of entitlement to power, as well as creating an impression of self-sufficiency that their opponents do not possess. Both men hold a false last name with Joffrey truly being a Lannister and Donald truly being a Drumpf. Both are also seen as illegitimate throughout their kingdoms, Joffrey being the result of an incestuous affair and Trump because a vast majority of Republicans despise him and the values that he claims are representative of the Republican Party.
Both are also morally depraved individuals who only value the accumulation of power for its own sake. They possess a mutual respect for torture as a perfectly acceptable way of achieving their goals. Joffrey’s fear of Dothraki hordes invading from the continent of Essos, sacking the cities of Westeros and imposing their “barbaric” culture upon his kingdom, is pretty reflective of how Trump views Muslim immigrants. Furthermore, whilst Joffrey’s Kingdom is protected by a large wall in the north seeking to keep out foreign wildlings, Trump has taken inspiration by seeking to build a wall across his southern border to keep out Mexicans. But most strikingly, whilst Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, Trump has somehow gotten one foot in the door of the White House and his abnormally small hands on the desk of the Oval Office as a result of people believing his lies, vague promises and scaremongering,
Next we have Hillary Clinton, America’s Stannis Baratheon. She claims herself to be the legitimate heir to the two former Democratic Presidents, Barrack Obama and her husband Bill Clinton (who quite obviously both personify Stannis’ late brother, King Robert Baratheon). As Stannis fled to the island of Dragonstone following the death of his brother, Hillary fled to the island of Manhattan to become a Senator of New York following her husband’s term as president. Since then she has sought to reclaim the White House as the obvious successor to Bill and Barrack. Her problem is that nobody really trusts her that much, and she can’t seem to unite Democrats behind her campaign. As Stannis Baratheon faced wipeout at the Battle of the Blackwater in Season Two of GoT, Hillary Clinton’s experience was just as catastrophic following her loss to become the Democratic nominee in the 2008 presidential election. Desperately needing backers and without much popular support, she turned to Wall Street where by February 2016 she had collected $44.1 million in donations from large financial institutions.
This is all a little similar to how Stannis Baratheon had to buy an army of mercenaries with loaned money from the Iron Bank because nobody really wanted to fight for him as their King. The results have paid off thus far, with Clinton just a couple of hundred delegates away from wrapping up her nomination as the Democratic candidate. But her prospects against Trump have dwindled over previous weeks as she receives more pressure from critics who claim that she simply supports popular positions to win over the people, citing examples from her long experience in public office. For example, one could note her opposition to gay marriage. This is a position that she changed her mind on back in 2013, the same year that the Supreme Court supported a decision by a lower court in California that had declared the ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, many are pointing out that her Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders, has been an advocate of gay rights since the 1970s. Like Stannis Baratheon, nobody really knows what Hillary Clinton actually believes in, if anything. But if these revelations about her past continue, she may not stand a chance at securing the White House come November. Remember Hillary, Winter is Coming.
Moving on, we have Ted Cruz who I am reluctant to say is the Rob Stark of this election. Reluctant because Rob Stark is far too awesome to be compared to Ted Cruz. First we have the rumour created by Donald Trump that Cruz’ father, Rafael Cruz, was supposedly involved in the assassination of former president John F. Kennedy in 1963. Does anybody remember how Cersei Lannister, fearing that Joffrey’s true identity as the son of her brother Jamie would be uncovered by Rob Stark’s father, Ned Stark, led her to spread similar rumours regarding Ned’s supposed treason that resulted in his execution? Well that’s similarity #1.
Then we also have the fact that Rob Stark sought to liberate the Seven Kingdoms from the illegitimate rule of Joffrey in the same way that Cruz portrayed himself as the obvious saviour of the Republican Party, in the face of whom many considered as an illegitimate Republican candidate: Donald Trump. But as Rob’s death signaled a huge victory for Joffrey in the War of the Five Kings, Ted and his “Courageous Conservatives”, which sounds like something that Boris Johnson would rename the Conservative Party if he ever became leader, failed to convince people of the illegitimacy of Trump’s claim to the Republican nomination, leading to his withdrawal and Trump’s success in the War of the 16,000 Republican Nominees.
Making cameo appearances in this election, I want to take a moment to reflect upon other candidates, who as in Game of Thrones where you can pretty much expect most of them to die instantly once proclaiming their intention to win the Iron Throne, they were quite hilariously out of their depths, resulting in their early annihilation at the state primaries stage of the contest. First we have Florida senator Marco Rubio, the Renly Baratheon of this election. Like how Renly possessed the most allies and the biggest army at the beginning of the War of the Five Kings, Rubio was widely considered to be the fresh-faced front runner of the Republican Party at the very beginning of the election. However, he had a disappointing campaign which revolved around him mechanically spewing out the same rehearsed lines over and over again. Marco became obsessed with letting the American people know that ‘Barrack Obama knew exactly what he was doing.’ So much so that he mentioned it five times in only one debate. It was as though Americans had previously believed that every decision Obama had ever made during his eight year presidency had been by complete accident. Just like how the people of Highgarden quickly switched their support to Joffrey following the assassination of their young and popular champion, Renly, Marco’s campaign ended with Trump winning his home state of Florida.
Next we have poor, old Jeb Bush. The Viserys Targaryen of America and the son and brother of former Presidents George Bush Sr. and George Bush Jr. The only real similarity between them is that Jeb, like Viserys, started out his campaign purely on the basis of being a blood relative to the former leaders of his nation. Other than that, they were both terrible contenders for the White House and the Iron Throne. Jeb’s defining moment is a toughie. The infamous photo of his personal handgun with his name inscribed on the barrel that was posted on twitter with the caption “America” was pretty symbolic of his overall disappointing policy platform. But it just loses out to the time that he attended his own rally, with his own supporters present and had to demand – very politely I might add – that they applaud him once he had finished speaking. Viserys probably wouldn’t have been so polite but regardless, both men faced the same early demise. As Viserys had a pot of boiling liquid gold poured atop his head in the first season of GoT, Jeb pulled out of the presidential race after just three primary defeats. Albeit, three primaries in which he failed to score a single top three result in. And so alas, he never got remotely close to the Oval Office that his brother and father had once sat in.
John Kasich is the Roose Bolton of the Republican contest. Observing how divided the Republican Party had become and knowing that he had no chance in hell of winning a single primary himself beyond his home state of Ohio, Kasich eventually latched onto Cruz’ campaign, similar to how Roose Bolton, lord of the Dreadfort came to support Rob Stark’s claim to the north. However, shortly after this electoral union, Ted’s campaign, like Rob’s life, had come to a heartbreaking end. Kasich still stood for a day more before pulling out of the contest, making Trump the sole Republican survivor. And yet, it’s suspicious how after initially joining an anti-Trump union with Cruz, Kasich’s decision to withdraw coincided with rumours that Trump was preparing Kaisch to become his running mate for the vice-presidency. *cough* Red Wedding *cough* You can see where I’m going with this. Who became Joffrey’s Warden of the North after Rob Stark’s death? The oh so trustworthy Roose Bolton!
Finally, mounting a campaign as an underdog which nobody thought would get anywhere, we have Bernie Sanders a.k.a the Khaleesi of Working Class America, the lord of Brooklyn, the breaker of chains, the father of Trade Unions and the rightful King of Democratic Socialism. As Daenerys Targaryen conquers Slavers Bay, seeking to release people from the chains of slavery to fight against their masters, Bernie Sanders conquers America, seeking to release people from the chains of poverty to fight against the 1% in America who control over half of all of the nation’s wealth. No other candidate in this election receives the same remarkable level of incessant support than Bernie Sanders across my campus at Northern Arizona University. He has however, one disadvantage. Like how Daenerys currently sits across the Narrow Sea in an entirely different continent to Westeros, where the ongoing War of the Five Kings is taking place, Sanders’ brand of democratic socialism has been criticised for coming from an entirely different continent to America, apparently from Europe! This is true to the extent that his policies of free college tuition and universal healthcare are reminiscent of the NHS in the UK or free university tuition in Scotland. But as an Englishman, I have to tell you America: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a bit more like us!
As for my own opinion on who should be the next president of the United States, I will say only that of all the Game of Thrones characters I have just discussed, only one is still alive!
So, there you go: George R. R. Martin, the prophet of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election!