Is Donald Trump Trolling America With Next-Level Satirical Performance Art?

Argue all you want, but I’m still convinced to this day that the 2012 Republican primary campaign of Herman Cain wasn’t actually serious: it was hardcore, next-level, masterclass satirical performance art. And for the past year, a part of me has believed the same of the campaign of Donald Trump.

Herman Cain was by far and without question the most hilarious presidential candidate in American history. From pulling his tax plan from a video game to quoting Pokémon lyrics during his concession speech, Herman Cain never failed to deliver breathtaking satirical performance art, the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the untimely passing of Andy Kaufman.

But what if Donald Trump is doing the same sort of performance art, but at a vastly deeper level? What if Trump’s goal with his 2016 candidacy is to expose the deep-seeded systemic bigotry within the Republican Party? To consistently expose the hypocrisy and vitriol of American conservatism? What if his campaign is the political equivalent of hitting someone in the face with their own hand?

If any of that is true, then Donald Trump would be considered one of the greatest comedy minds of all time. And if that’s what he’s up to, one can only assume we’re about to find out.

The Case For Donald Trump, Comedian

In 2005, Donald Trump’s wedding to Melania Knauss had many high-profile visitors. Among them? None other than his 2016 presidential campaign arch-nemesis, Hillary Clinton, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. And where did Hillary Clinton sit during the ceremony? In the very front row.

Trump repeatedly contributed financially to the Clintons over the years; the amounts of those various donations seems to be unknown, though some claim they total in the six-figure range. Trump and Bill Clinton have golfed together on many occasions (which I devoted a chapter to in my slapstick satire novel White Houses, Blue Dresses; don’t mind the shameless self-promotion), and Bill Clinton still has a locker at Trump’s golf course in Westchester, New York.

Donald Trump’s connections to the Clintons may be damning politically, but it doesn’t really prove conclusively that Trump’s campaign is satirical performance art. For that, we’re going to need to take a look at his campaign itself.

Strong cases can be made that Donald Trump has pulled the GOP to the right and to the left, all without Joe Q. Conservative seemingly noticing it was happening. He’s taken a strong stand against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal Republicans used to love, but most serious progressives despise. This week, we’ve heard RNC speakers lambast the TPP, one going so far as to repeatedly refer to is as “Obamatrade.”

Most of his supporters never spotted the irony, but Trump has repeatedly come out in favor of higher taxes for the wealthy, as well as single-payer healthcare. But even after the radical right-wing conservative website Breitbart spotted it, most of Trump’s supporters will still happily rant at you about the evils of socialism and turn a blind eye to their favored candidate’s occasional liberal leanings.

So if you think about it, Donald Trump has managed to build a presidential campaign that forces conservatives, and even the GOP itself, to constantly contradict itself. To question its own philosophies and to support ideas they would attack in unison if they came from anyone else.

Melania Trump may have plastered delicious icing onto her husband’s satire cake earlier this week, when she famously plagiarized First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 DNC speech, practically verbatim.

Shortly after Melania’s speech — during that interim before the world figured out she had stolen it — America’s right was praising it as the best speech of the convention. Conservatives who nonsensically label President Obama as a “divider” were quoting segments of Melania’s speech that were directly stolen from Obama’s wife, and telling America how awe-inspiring and uniting those words were. They were all too happy to say that Melania Trump wrote her own speech, a testament to the woman they hoped would become America’s next First Lady.

When you sum that up through the lens of satirical art, the end result is pretty beautiful: Donald Trump’s wife managed to get Republicans to praise First Lady Michelle Obama’s words, without even realizing they were doing it. And now that the world knows the truth, it’s too late for them to take back those compliments. The media gets to freely heap praise on Michelle Obama’s speech all over again, and there’s absolutely nothing conservatives can do to argue against it. Brilliant.

If Donald Trump Is A Satire Master, He’ll Need To Reveal It To The World Soon

I originally made a name for myself as a political satirist, writing “fake news” for a number of popular websites. As a satirist, my biggest challenge was always that of finding where the line was, and then dancing on it; I never wanted my silly articles to hurt anyone, but I wanted them to make a point, and I wanted them to strike a nerve as hard as possible.

If Donald Trump’s candidacy is satirical in nature, he’d hopefully want to reveal that joke to the world soon, before he does irreparable damage to the nation itself. Coming clean and admitting that it was all satire before November, taking a bow and then plugging whatever book he’s working on, would cement him in the annals of comedy history as a true master. Doing that after losing the election — or worse, after winning — would be a case of taking a joke way too far.

If Donald Trump is a satirical performance artist, then bravo. You did the impossible, sir, and I applaud you. But if Donald Trump is indeed serious, if his campaign is real, if none of this has been a joke… God help us all.

Photo by Gage Skidmore