April Presidential Primary Calendar

SuperTues

Democratic Presidential Primary Calendar

April 5 – Wisconsin

April 9 – Wyoming (Caucus)

April 19 – New York

April 26 (mini-Super Tuesday) – Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island

Republican Presidential Primary Calendar

April 1 – North Dakota (Caucus)

April 5 – Wisconsin

April 19 – New York

April 26 (mini-Super Tuesday) – Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island

What Hillary needs to do: win any state and/or do not lose states by too much (55-45 losses are fine, 60-40 less so, 70-30 worse case scenario).

What Bernie needs to do: win Wisconsin with some room to spare, win the Wyoming Caucus by at least 70-30, win New York outright to change the narrative, then win easily in Rhode Island, and just win outright in Delaware, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

What Trump needs to do: win his home state of New York, add 3 of the 5 states on mini-Super Tuesday to it, preferably Maryland, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania included.

What Cruz needs to do: win North Dakota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.

What Kasich needs to do: win Wisconsin, stay competitive in North Dakota, New York, and the Super Tuesday states. The goal for Kasich at this point is to just gather up some delegates where he can and look like a potential viable candidate on the floor of a contested convention.

Will anyone drop out in April? I’m going to say “no.” Bernie has the money to keep going and he also has enough winnable states lined up all the way until the end of the primary season. The more delegates he wins the more prominent a slot at the convention for the issues he has been campaigning on. There is no reason for him to drop out.

On the GOP side, they need three candidates in the race if the “respectable conservative plot to cheat” is to have any chance. They need to prevent Trump from securing enough delegates and as of today, he is on pace to secure enough delegates. Kasich and Cruz both play decently well in Wisconsin, North Dakota is no sure thing for Trump, but that is not enough. Between Kasich and Cruz, they need to find more states to win outright in as the GOP calendar has now moved into the heart of the winner-take-all states.

Donald Trump and Right-Wing Drag

by Allan Branstiter

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The Trump campaign’s drag qualities aren’t simply painted on The Donald’s orange face. It can also be found in the cartoonish enthusiasm and beliefs of his supporters.

About a week ago I joined others who were drawing connections between Donald Trump’s campaign performances and the spectacle of professional wrestling. While I still think that notion of kayfabe—the ability of a wrestler to portray staged events as real—and wrestling’s ability to appeal directly to the audiences emotions explains quite a lot about Trump’s popularity, I think another form of “low-brow” popular spectacle can help us understand the Donald. Simply put, Donald Trump is the queen of right-wing drag.

This idea crossed my mind as I was reading Jonathan Chait’s recent post about the current schism within the Republican Party. Chait argues that the Trump vs. #NeverTrump divide does not follow the long-standing traditional ideological differences between the GOP’s ideological center and fringe—nor is a geographic division between northeastern Rockefeller Republicans and the Solid South. “Instead,” Chait writes, “the divide runs high-low, splitting conservatism as an idea from conservatism as an instinct.” So what does this have to do with drag?

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Corruption, Overreaction, and Fact-Free Politics at the New York State Senate

by Troy M. Olson

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Jay Gould, political cartoon retrieved at wikipedia.com and in the Public Domain.

In our great country, there are three main regions: New York City, Los Angeles, and the Midwest. Politically speaking, if you value vaguely responsive, effective, and non-corrupt governance, you’ll want to be somewhere in the Midwest, or as the “Agreeing Loudly” podcast now calls it—Central Earth.

I grew up in the Midwest, the part of the Midwest that in comparison to many other states, has relatively good governance and relatively active citizen populace. In my home state of Minnesota, voter turnout and citizen participation is routinely the highest or close to the highest in the United States. I have been spoiled.

In so many ways, I love the new city and state I am a resident of, but politics are not one of those reasons. As a (mostly) partisan Democrat this may come as a shock to some of you since I am now living in a deep blue state, having moved from a lighter blue state.

However, New York State and City politics have a long history of corruption, kickbacks, and shady business deals. The most notorious example being the subject of the above cartoon, Jay Gould. Gould was a first Gilded Age-era railroad developer and speculator who was so successful with his politico to corporate “grift machine” that he became the 9th richest American of all-time adjusted for inflation. 

Perhaps you’ll recall the “Tammany Hall” political ring portrayed in Martin Scorsese’s 2002 film “Gangs of New York.” While Gould did not feature in this fictional story inspired by true events, his political contact and professional “grift machine”-hack friend Boss Tweed, the head of the “Tammany Hall” political ring, was in the film. Perhaps you’ll recall him handing “vote Tammany” flyers out to the Irish immigrants as they were coming to New York City in droves during the 1840s to 1860s. Tweed’s main political opponent in the film is portrayed excellently by Daniel Day Lewis as William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting heading up the nativist faction of New York politics. Xenophobia or professional “grift machine” robber barons? Not very good options and probably not what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he envisioned a nation of enlightened citizens. However, this story is repeating itself in New York politics today.

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The High Price of Phantom Development

By Tom Goldstein

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Last August, after little discussion and no opportunity for public input, the Saint Paul City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to support the construction of a professional soccer stadium in St. Paul on the old Bus Barn site in the Midway. The resolution, sponsored by City Council President Russ Stark, pledged to permanently exempt that site from property taxes so long as the city has “strong, specific evidence that the stadium and public infrastructure investments will help catalyze additional investments on the Midway Shopping Center site consistent with the Snelling Station Area Plan.”

Since that time, the city’s effort to gather that strong, specific evidence has consisted of presentations by city staff and Minnesota United FC owner Bill McGuire to the Mayor’s hand-picked Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC). The two “open houses” on the proposed soccer stadium have limited public participation to small-group breakout sessions, ensuring that any concerns about the stadium, or opposition to it, would not be voiced before a larger audience.

The CAC has conducted something akin to a “visioning” process for the Midway site at bi-monthly meetings since late December, but those discussions have been largely hypothetical because no master plan was forthcoming from the team or RK Midway, the owner of the adjacent and long-neglected Midway Center. Then, in late February, the team and R.K. Midway, produced attractive artist renderings of what the site could look like—provided RK Midway can round up the estimated $450 million for its end of the project.

Though the daily newspapers treated the artist sketches as evidence that a genuine master plan is falling into place, the only progress R.K. Midway has made to date is “talking quietly with some prospective developers,” according to an article in the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal. And as RK Midway’s Rick Birdoff himself acknowledged in the same article, there is “no timeline for when the area around the stadium would be developed” and any future development would be “based on market demand.”

In other words, like many grand visions—remember Jerry Trooien’s ill-fated $1 billion “Bridges of St. Paul” entertainment complex planned for the West Side Flats a decade ago?—what might be possible for the Midway is nothing more than a concept. The only commitment Birdoff has is from McGuire to build a soccer stadium primarily on land owned by the Metropolitan Council and leased to the city. And even that deal hinges on approval from the Minnesota Legislature to permanently exempt the site from property taxes and waive all sales taxes on construction materials.

No matter. The entirely speculative redevelopment vision was enough evidence for the City Council to approve—over the opposition of council members Dan Bostrom and Jane Prince—the expenditure of $18.4 million in infrastructure improvements around the proposed stadium.

For those familiar with how St. Paul government has operated for the past decade under Mayor Chris Coleman, this outcome should come as no surprise. Like other major projects for which the City Council has showed no interest in conducting its own due diligence or holding public hearings (e.g., approval of the $65 million Saints ballpark and last year’s 10-year cable franchise renewal with Comcast), the soccer stadium infrastructure giveaway was limited to a mere 15 minutes of opposing testimony before the council voted.

Although 30 years of economic studies have definitively shown that professional stadiums at most simply shift spending patterns around rather than spur bona fide development, the majority of the City Council is happy to throw the dice on yet another stadium project. As Stark acknowledged at the hearing: “it’s true we don’t have a specific proposal in front of us for what that additional investment will look like…only the potential for a ‘win-win’ of private investment.”

Ward 3 City Council member Chris Tolbert, who represents Highland Park, talked about the $18.4 million being a “a great investment in a neighborhood that will benefit all of our neighborhoods.” If it’s such a great investment, why hasn’t Tolbert pushed for the soccer stadium to be located on the Ford Plant site where it would occupy only a small portion of the land? We all know why: Highland Park neighbors would be in an uproar over traffic and parking issues, not to mention the prospect of devoting a prime piece of real estate to a soccer stadium.

But hey, it’s just the Midway, where no attempt has been made to gauge neighborhood sentiment beyond anecdotal testimony from soccer fans and business groups. Mayor Coleman assures us that 50 percent of fans will be taking public transportation to the stadium, a claim he has pulled wholly out of thin air.

The council was willing to support the stadium project even though no transportation or parking studies have been completed. Those who live in close proximity to the stadium know exactly what that means: They’ll have the pleasure of hosting the traffic and noise because the city has no plans for additional parking beyond a VIP lot that the city will be providing tax-free to the team.

City Council member Dai Thao, in whose Ward 1 the stadium would be built, believes that “people are smart enough to know this is a good deal” and that somehow a soccer stadium will address the 32 percent unemployment rate among teenagers. He praised former Ward 4 City Council member Jay Benanav and his former aide Prince for their efforts 15 years ago to lure Allina’s corporate campus to the Midway, citing the stadium as somehow the culmination of those efforts.

What Thao failed to mention is that Allina ended up relocating to South Minneapolis, where its presence has stabilized a crime-ridden neighborhood and helped turn the Midtown Global Market into a thriving hub of ethnic food establishments—the very thing that would have been ideal for the culturally diverse Midway area.

As council member Prince pointed out in her comments, the city created an “artificial deadline for a complex deal . . . before any serious expression of developer interest in the RK Midway site . . . and before independent analysis of this deal could be completed to guide against unintended consequences . . . including no estimates of public costs of plans for the northern half of Midway site.”

Of course, there is at least a sliver of a silver lining in this project—knowing that any environmental remediation for the site will be handled by the St. Paul Port Authority. That’s the same entity that acquired and demolished the Gillette Building to make way for the Saints ballpark.

Unfortunately, that decision resulted in a $7 million cost overrun because of a failure to include a standard clause in the purchase agreement to protect the city from any liability for the contaminated soil that everyone involved with the project knew existed.

You can’t make this stuff up. Even in St. Paul.

Tom Goldstein is a resident of the Hamline-Midway neighborhood, a lawyer and former St. Paul School Board member. He was a candidate for the City Council in St. Paul’s Ward 4 last fall.

In Our Post-Factual World, Kayfabe is King

by Carson Starkey

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“By Any Means Necessary”

At some point in the not-so-distant future, The Nation of Domination will “interrupt” a Donald Trump rally/speech. They will appear suddenly in a doorway, bathed in spotlights, wielding baseball bats, chains, and tire irons. They will begin marching towards the main stage, advancing on scattered groups of terrified, hysterical, elderly white Fox News viewers to the sounds of NWA’s “Fuck Tha’ Police.” Images of Barack Obama transforming into Malcolm X will adorn the venue’s Jumbotrons.

Moments before The Nation can reach Trump’s podium to complete their attack on freedom and destroy America, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chuck Norris, and Hulk Hogan will emerge from behind a curtain on the stage. They will be armed with American flags and steel chairs emblazoned with “Made in America,” as well as the United Steelworkers logo. Their spotlights will be larger. They will be surrounded by pyrotechnics while Bruce Springsteen’s immortal “Born in the USA” seizes control of the sound system, drowning out the evil, morally deficient, food stamp-encouraging hippity hop jungle music of the savage, unpatriotic attackers. Michaels, Austin, Norris, and Hogan will dispatch every member of The Nation with a combination of their signature finishers, and blows leveled with their white nationalist accouterments.

After Hogan levels Farooq/Ron Simmons with a dose of freedom, “Barack Obama” (played by Jay Pharoah) and “Hillary Clinton” (played by Kate McKinnon) will descend from the rafters, screaming “DEATH TO AMERICA!” The Illegitimate Kenyan Pretender and the Chief Feminazi Conspirator of Benghazi will attempt to aid their subversive nonwhite comrades.

Before Obama Hussein and Jane Fonda Clinton can enslave Real America, “George W. Bush” (played by George W. Bush) and “Dick Cheney” (played by Dick Cheney) will emerge from a previously undetected space beneath the stage. Bush-Cheney will overwhelm Obama-Clinton with respect for traditional values, devotion to capitalism, and freedom. Bush and Cheney will incapacitate Obama with a double vertical suplex through a table. America’s greatest cowboy hat-bedecked duo will complete their triumph with a double powerbomb of Clinton from atop of the main stage, onto a conveniently placed stack of Rachel Maddow books.

America’s glorious heroes will embrace. The crowd will shriek “TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP!” Trump will raise his hands high in victory, humbled by the show of conservative solidarity, and ready to win a general election.

Get used to saying “President Trump,” an America without social insurance, and seeing a whole lot more of Vince McMahon for the next eight years.

Episode 27: Agreeing Loudly Attempts to Create Podcast “Born to Run”

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The curse of 27 lives on! 2 of our 3 regulars are out this week, and everyone else has busted March Madness brackets.

Come one, come all and listen to Pat, Carson, and Troy recover to discuss whether we have reached “peak Millennial” in Urbania, United States. Listen to dispatches and exclusives from Central Earth, prognostications of what has become a boring and predictable Presidential race, and a high note ending with a little game called “Guess the 13 Richest Americans.”

A fitting and competitive end to this 27th episode, brought to you from the commentators who will do their best to help you get through the 2nd American Gilded Age with a slice of wit, snark, and satire.

You can listen to this week’s episode here, or you can direct download!

A Millennial Couple’s Journey From Saint Paul to New York City: Part Two – Is This Heaven? No, It’s Iowa

by Troy M. Olson

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Goodbye, Grand Avenue, Saint Paul. It sure was a great ride.

Now that I’ve finally wrestled the pen and paper away from professional instigator Harry J. Potter (tuxedo cat version), I’m digging into my journal (and likely horcrux for Harry) to tell our version of the journey from Saint Paul, MN to New York, NY.

Leaving Minnesota

We spent our last few days making the rounds to our favorite restaurants and favorite friends and people. Admittedly, I may have indulged in this a bit more while Jacki spent 90-plus degree days packing our stuff, the stuff we couldn’t get rid of and did not throw away. I feel okay admitting this bout of laziness now because I ended up driving the Penske “big rig” the entire way. Although the move was certain, perhaps I wanted to soak in every last drop of Minnesota unsweetened tea. We were excited, nervous, and pre-nostalgic. Very millennial.

After packing up the truck all day, with the help of parents, we were finally on the road at about 8 P.M. Harry was excited, or terrified. Or excited. Or terrified. We’ll get to that later. Later that night we crossed the Minnesota-Iowa border. While I’ve spent significant time in the Middle East, England, the state of North Dakota, and the state of Missouri in my life, this was the first time I could ever truly say I was leaving Minnesota, perhaps for good. It was bittersweet.

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Kleiner Mann Joe Blue Collar, Was Nun?: The Way Forward for Those Who Don’t Care About The Heritage Foundation’s Agenda

By Carson Starkey

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Darren McCollester | Getty Images

Hans Fallada’s “Little Man, What Now?” was first published in 1932. Johannes Pinneberg, the protagonist, faces constant economic anxieties, petty humiliations, and social disillusionment in post-World War One Germany. He travels through a broad range of emotions, but most of all, he feels disconnected and abandoned…abandoned by faceless, uncaring “leaders.” As he sees it, somebody should be looking out for him. He doesn’t hold grandiose, sophisticated ideas about public policy, history, economics, or politics. He wants a steady job, a place to live free from his repulsive mother-in-law, affordable healthcare for his wife Emma, and food for his son Horst. He’s not angry about socialism, trade unionism, or fascism. He’s angry that self-declared “serious” people in government can’t or won’t protect him from avoidable misery. A fair number of scholars assert that the book acts a broad explanation for the future political success of fascism in Germany. Johannes Blue Collar wasn’t obsessed with waging expensive, seemingly endless warfare or subjugating everyone that disagreed with him politically. He just wanted to pay his bills and maintain some measure of human dignity. Of course that was true in 1932. It has been true throughout the course of human history. It’s true today. Which brings us to Joe Blue Collar in contemporary America and his broad interest in, if not sympathy with, Donald Trump.

What has been most intriguing, in my view anyway, about the rise of Trumpism (broad, detail-free populist declarations about making America great) are the reactions among Establishment or respectable conservatives. “Establishment conservatives” has come to mean Republican Party voters that favor millionaire welfare checks, eternal warfare with Muslims, and racial segregation without the burden of supporting a politically inexperienced, orange-skinned, toupee-adorned grifter who plies shoddy products at Macy’s. Now that Trump is going to be the Republican presidential nominee, respectable conservatives are melting down in highly public, Mel Gibson-esque spectacles that reveal the ugly yet honest ideological foundations of American conservatism. Respectable, establishment conservatives claim to care about intellectually serious matters like Supreme Court nominees, small government, or fiscal restraint…although no evidence exists to support the contention that those same conservatives have ever worried about such matters in the past three quarters of a century, unless we mean preserving low tax rates for rich people or criminalizing the existence of non-white people. No, what rankles self-proclaimed grown-up conservatives about Trump is that he’s giving away the inside game by verifying an uncomfortable suspicion that Heritage Foundation “scholars” have always attempted to suppress during campaigns. That is, most self-proclaimed conservative voters don’t care about the Ayn Rand agenda. While abolishing taxation, dissolving social insurance, and building Pax Americana are important causes to people who work at The Wall Street Journal, all that Jane or Joe Blue Collar care about relates to making financial ends meet. Which makes conservative aristocrats angry bordering on hysterical.

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What Wrestling Can Tell Us About Donald Trump

by Allan Branstiter

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I spent most of last week writing my dissertation prospectus, so I wasn’t able to get to an idea I’ve been mulling for a few weeks. So as I was working on constructing an argument about viewing the Civil War and Reconstruction era from the lens of American settler colonialism, Vann R. Newkirk at The Atlantic beat me to the punch and wrote a very good article about what professional wrestling can tell us about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. You should definitely read it. And this. And this. While Newkirk argues that Trump’s success is based on his ability to play the heel (the overtly bad guy in a storyline), I argue that The Donald fits a more recent archetype: the “anti-face” (i.e. Stone Cold Steve Austin, C.M. Punk, and Kevin Owens).

Professional wrestling, in many ways, can tell us more about democracy, demagoguery, and the political power of public spectacle than polling and political science. In 1957, philosopher and literary theorist Roland Barthes wrote an article describing the complex relationship between wrestling as a spectacle and its audience. To Barthes, wrestling was a spectacle that broke through the fourth wall, thereby transcending the traditional limits competative sport and high art. He observed that in wrestling the audience becomes part of the performance. No wrestling storyline can succeed if the audience refuses to suspending their disbelief and accept the narrative laid out before them.

Barthes suggests that power of wrestling as a spectacle is the reciprocal relationship enjoyed by the performer and the audience. In ideal circumstances, time, motives, and consequences do not matter in a wrestling storyline. A wrestler can act in unbelievable, contradictory, or irrational ways in the rign, but the storyline remains intact as long as they maintain an emotional reciprocity with their audience. As a result, a good wrestler can turn against their closest allies without so much as a second thought from the crowd. It is through the effective manipulation of this actor-spectator relationship that wrestling can transcend the line between fiction and reality. In the best cases the audience is allowed to suspend their critical disbelief and abolish questions of motives and consequences. The best wrestling performances offers audiences not only an escape from reality, but a plausible alternative—a world where good always triumphs over evil, and where stereotypes offer a simultaneoulsy fantastic and real sense of predictability and stability.

“Thus function of the wrestler is not to win,” Barthes explains, “it is to go exactly through the motions which are expected of him.” In the case of Donald Trump, he is an anti-face within the spectacle of conservative politics, the hero with a mean streak. Unlike the heroic “baby-face” or ignoble “heel,” the anti-face’s motivations are not immediately clear to the audience. They walk the line between hero and villain, motivated by a desire to accomplish good through often immoral means. Anti-face’s are powerful characters because they capture the audience’s feelings of anger, powerlessness, alienation, and indignation and turn them against structures of authority. While “faces” like Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart appealed to the audience’s desire to see good always triumph over evil, the anti-faces like Rowdy Roddy Piper and Steve Austin titillated the fans’ deeper desire to inflict pain upon their enemies and oppressors. The anti-face resonates not because he or she always wins, but because they provide the audience with a vessel for their darker emotions.

For example, consider Stone Cold Steve Austin. His character’s narrative can tell you a lot about the psychology of working-class white Americans during the 1990s. Alienated by poltical correctness and elite notions of respectability, proud of their hard work and fortitude, threatened by unflinchingly terrible bosses who threatened their livelihood as millions of good-paying jobs were shipped oversees, Steve Austin resonated with his audience because he was one of them. He drank beer, he cursed, he kicked a lot of ass, and the stood firmly upon a sense of masculine working-class morality he shared with his fans. He even captured their ambivalent attitudes towards sanctimonious Christianity.In an age when rednecks were Jeff Foxworthy jokes and the ambitions of poor white working class men and women were continually betrayed by the political elite, Stone Cold was King of the Ring. (Happy Austin 3:16 Day, btw!)

During typical presidential campaigns, American voters are (Barthe again) “overwhelmed with the obviousness of the roles.” Normally the field is divided into establishment candidates, fringe candidates, liberal candidates, and conservative candidates. Political commentators draw a sense of expertise from their ability to recognize and analyze these categories and even break them down into subgroups: prairie populists, Chamber of Commerce Republicans, blue-dog Democrats, etc. Like older forms of professional wrestling, campaigns were relatively predictable. Establishment candidates always moved towards their base in order to defeat fringe primary opponents before moving to the center during general elections. And since the late 1970s, working-class whites largely voted for Republicans because they were “our guys.” In the spectacle of American politics, their baby-faces were conservative Republican “every-men” and their heels were liberal urban coastal elites.

The wrestling world’s notion of “kayfabe” also applies to American political spectacle. According to Tecoa T. Washington, kayfabe “refers to the portrayal of events within the industry as real, that is, the portrayal of professional wrestling as unstaged.” In wrestling and politics, the public is encouraged to suspend disbelief. The electoral audience is encouraged to take the words and performances of their candidates at face value. In wrestling, those who are able to identify the borders between reality and theatrics are called “smarks,” while those who cannot distinguish staged events from reality are called “marks.” Performers and marks tend to dislike smarks because they disrupt their ability to create an effective spectacle—a performance where the audience and performer connect and nothing exists beyond the confines of the arena. In the political world, think of partisans and ideologues as marks, while pundits and journalists as smarks. Much of Trump’s disdain for the media is based on the fact that it resonates with his supporters, but it also has to do with the fact that the press is constantly threatening his ability to create an effective and manipulative spectacle.

Since the internet has made it increasingly difficult for wrestlers to separate their private and public lives, they’ve have had to find new ways to protect their spectacle and keep the smarks at bay (an excellent example of this is Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit with Gawker Media). Kayfabe has become an art in itself, and wrestler often play with the line between reality and performance, letting the audience feel like they know what is behind the curtain while maintaining control over the illusion. The best performers will regularly appear to break the fourth wall, leaving the audience confused about what is real and what is staged. When done well, the spectators are left with no other choice than to surrender their disbelief. All performances (especially wrestling and politics) seek to manipulate, but only the best can do so without alerting their audiences.

The world of politics is no different. Candidates routinely separate their private lives from their public personas. In the past, journalists helped erect this distinction by only reporting the public side of a politician’s personality. This changed when the Watergate scandal led many Americans to question whether a public figure’s private life should be considered in order to measure their suitability for office. The first to fall was Gary Hart, whose marital problems and sexual liaisons were exposed to intense public scrutiny in 1988. Since then, candidates have struggled to find new ways to let the public into their private lives while maintaining a sense of control over their public image. Some have been good, other have been awkward and creepy.

Donald Trump’s campaign is a revolution in the kayfabe of American politics. Unlike many candidates, he offer no glimpses beyond his public persona, nor does he offer much in the way of concrete policy plans. Instead, he invites his audience to pour their anger, disappointments, and indignation into the vessel of “The Donald.” Political scientists and pundits try to dissect the rationale behind his support to no avail because, just as in wrestling, what matters is not what a Trump support thinks but what a Trump supporter sees.

What does a Trump supporter see in “The Donald?” They see an outlandish and powerful man who is unafraid to stand up for his values. They see an ineffective speaker running circles around the powers that be. Where rational minds see a demagogue manipulating the crowd, Trump supporters see an iconoclast manipulating the system. And as strange and unlikely as it sounds, they see themselves in this bombastic millionaire. They see their struggles embodied in a man roundly reviled by strangers, elites, and an increasingly alien society. They see the establishment trying to crush the only candidate to speak to their concerns in years. While they might disagree with his style, his supporters believe in his goals. They see Trump as misunderstood. They see themselves as misunderstood. They also see a character who legitimizes their right to inflict physical and verbal violence upon racial minorities, uppity women, and foreigners.

What makes Trump’s support so difficult to undermine is that he does not need to win—he simply needs to “go exactly through the motions which are expected of him.” Trump exists as his supporter’s emotional vessel, and he accomplishes this by simply existing. The fact that he is the leading candidate in the Republican primary only adds to his appeal. In fact, winning might be the only thing that can defeat Trump. If we look at wrestling as a model, anti-faces often win the title, but they face the prospect of alienating their fans once this is achieved. The worst thing that can happen to a successful anti-face is appearing like they are being “pushed” or promoted by the establishment.

Underdogs and antiheroes resonate because they and their audiences are losers. Trump supporters love “The Donald” because he has a “proven” track record of success in business; however, they also love him because he remains unproven in politics. Like “The Donald,” his supporters view themselves as millionaires in their own minds who have been marginalized by the media and political elite. If Trump wins and gains the support of the establishment, he could possibly alienate his disenfranchised supporters. But none of this matters right now, because Trump has created a spectacle where reality and facts outside of the arena do not matter. Disbelief has been suspended. Anything—anything—is possible.