Trump peddled his
parade of ridicule
and lies about the
large numbers of
Americans started to
drop dead from the
The American Spark
Coronavirus Has Ended The Burlesque of Donald Trump
By Cliff Montgomery - Mar. 31st, 2020
“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of
entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people
become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-
death is a clear possibility.”
― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
You have to admit, the gas mask was an inspired touch.
In the first week of March, Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida showed up to a U.S. House floor vote wearing a
gigantic gas mask. The vote was over an emergency funding bill meant to provide a coordinated federal
response to the Coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
His display had it all: Caricature, ridicule and fact distortion. Precisely what Americans have come to expect
from a fierce Trump supporter like Gaetz.
Of course, the Reigning Master of vulgar caricature and fact distortion couldn’t let himself be outdone.
At about the same time as Gaetz’s little ridicule played out on the House floor, “[The] Trump [Administration] .
. . falsely claimed the virus is ‘contained’ in the United States and accused the media and Democrats of
exaggerating the threat it poses,” according to an article in the Guardian.
You have to hand it to Trump and to supporters like Gaetz. They continued their parade of vulgar ridicule and
fact distortions, right up until large numbers of Americans started to drop dead from the virus.
What a difference a few weeks has made in this country.
Social animosity has to a surprising extent withered away during the Coronavirus outbreak. It routinely has
been replaced with earnest efforts to aid our communities and the nation at large.
Those who have worked against this trend - buyers who hoard essential items at stores, or business people
who engage in acts of price-gouging, for instance - have quickly been brought to task by the wider community.
If people do feel the need to judge others during these trying times, they currently tend to judge others on the
content of their actions . . . and what those actions seem to reveal about the potential offender’s personal
It a far cry from the standard of the last few years, in which groups on both the right and the left tended to
judge others according to their ‘identity’ - which usually just meant their biology.
So personal character has essentially replaced ‘identity’ as the measure of a human being. Whatever
problems the Coronavirus outbreak has caused, one can’t help but recognize that it has forced large
segments of our nation to finally grow up.
One other thing about this outbreak: It has muzzled Donald Trump and those Twitter Armies of Sanctimony
from both the right and left sides of the aisle. During this ‘adult time’, Trump and the Twitter Armies have been
reduced to mere passive observers of serious events.
And on those rare occasions when they once again try to make themselves the center of everyone’s attention,
they are roundly ignored.
The fact that their loss of influence has gone hand-in-hand with America’s rediscovered adulthood is not a
coincidence. Whatever problems have been caused by this terrible pandemic, it has forced many of us to
grow up - and to recognize that we simply cannot continue to hand over the people’s business to full-grown
children, vaudeville acts and third-rate insult comics. This is reality, not reality TV.
And those Twitter Armies of Sanctimony? They’re nothing more than the latest incarnations of an absurd
comedy that has plagued U.S. politics for decades.
To be fair, the Trump political movement is different from the vaudeville of America’s traditional political elites
- but only by its level of shamelessness. It cannot properly be called a mere “vaudeville.” It is much closer to
its vulgar cousin, the burlesque.
“Traditionally, burlesque is a type of variety show that is both provocative and comedic,” declared an article
published by Dictionary.com on the meaning and background of the word.
“Burlesque comes from the Italian and means ‘mockery,’ ” adds the article. “Historically, it was used to refer to
an array of entertainment that used caricature, ridicule, and [fact] distortion,” states Dictionary.com.
“The word was first used in the 1500s by the Italian Francesco Berni, who called his operas burleschi,”
according to the article.
Traditionally speaking, both the performers and the audience knew that they were watching a vulgar comedy.
No one mistook the burlesque for truth. That is, until Donald Trump and his minions created their 'movement’.
Vaudeville or open burlesque, decades of treating the people’s business like an absurd comedy has brought
the United States to the verge of culture-death. And, we strongly suspect, the burlesque of the Trump
movement - specifically, its absolute refusal to treat science and logic as serious matters -may well have
contributed to both the spread and the ravages of the Coronavirus on these shores.
Let’s make this clear: It’s adult time now. And America’s political elites would probably be happy to go right
back to the vaudeville of Democratic Party elites or the Republicans’ raw burlesque of Donald Trump.
However, the United States doesn’t need yet another vaudeville act . . . and it may not be able to stand
another burlesque. It’s time for adults who can provide serious answers to serious problems. We might get
that from somewhere - perhaps from ourselves, perhaps from an adult like Bernie Sanders or another John
McCain, if the U.S. conservative movement is still able to produce an adult. But America will not get it from its
current stable of political ‘elites’.
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