Donald Trump's Shakespearean Muse

Donald Trump's Shakespearean Muse

Man, I really should have paid better attention in high school English.
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Like many of my peers, I have been endlessly and perversely entertained by the antics of Donald Trump this election season. Donny Small-Hands has always had a ridiculous public persona, but recently he has swung for the fences in not only offending people, but also bringing hate speech onto the world stage. Because he is such a strange enigma, everyone's been looking for an analogue to explain Trump and his rise in terms we can wrap our head around.

So far, the classic move has been a comparison to Adolf Hitler. While that is apt at times, Hitler also holds a unique status as the worst individual in our shared consciousness. To say, "Trump Is Hitler" is to say, "Trump is a monster I cannot ever understand", and end the thought process there.

Personally, I think we need to view Trump through the lens of a less stigmatized character in order to understand how he got to be the GOP frontrunner. That someone is, of course, Prince Hal from Shakespeare's King Henry IV Part I.

For those of who haven't read or seen this play (which is understandable; Henry V is a lot sexier), the basic plot is pretty simple: there's a storm of rebellion brewing in England against the King, and revolution seems like it will break out any minute. Meanwhile, the King's strange son, Prince Hal, spends his time hanging with the cleverest barflys you'll ever meet, shirking his duties in the name of good times. To put it simply, he's not someone you'd want at your family picnic, let alone the guy who should be next in line to the throne.

At first, the prince's rash actions seem to be just juvenile rebellion, Hal's way of pissing off his dad. But in the second scene of the first act, Shakespeare reveals that there's something more sinister lurking underneath the surface. Here's a link to the text if you'd like to read it, but John Gielgud plays the character best in Orson Welles' Chimes At Midnight:


Because Chimes is Welles' conglomeration of Henry IV Part I and Part II, we actually see a lot of Prince Hal palling around with Falstaff, played by Welles himself. It's all fun and games because, well, why not? But if you skip to 4 and a half minutes in, you get to see a dull sociopathic glint in the eyes of the future king. This man has been working hard to "make offence a skill", but it's all been because he wants to look better in comparison "when this loose behavior I throw off."

"Hal rightly recognizes the value of being seen as fresh and new", writes Jennifer Drouin, and I'm inclined to think Trump saw that same value last week when he chose to change his campaign strategy. "I will be so presidential," Trump said on NBC's Today Show, "you will be so bored." In another interview with the Wall Street Journal, he noted that he will be "more effective and more disciplined" in the future.

Trump knows that, if his campaign continues the way it has, he may win the GOP nomination but never the bipartisan vote (to our credit, 65% of Americans surveyed still view him as unfavorable.) I predict that these recent statements are Trump's way of beginning the turn to moderate that we've all seen coming for months.

What Trump may not have accounted for is, the stakes are a lot higher for him than they were for Prince Hal.

By constantly saying "what we all want to say", Trump has not only become popular, but made hate socially acceptable. "Make America Great Again" is not just a radical statement anymore; it's a figurehead for racists, misogynists, and bigots of all denominations to rally around and make that which is not Great into the Other. Even if the man does swing back and "imitate the sun" on a personal and political level, the effects of his early campaign will never fade away.

Like many of his business decisions, it appears Trump has gambled big and lost. And we're the one's who will be paying for it.

Cover Image Credit: Ronald Grant Archive

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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