An American tragicomedy

US voters have an opportunity to turn their country into a TV sitcom with guaranteed global success

Will Trump become president?
Will Trump become president?CHIP SOMODEVILLA / AFP

Devoted fans of Donald Trump may not be aware of it, but today, American voters have an opportunity to turn their country into a TV sitcom of guaranteed global success. It will be dark comedy, of course. Or perhaps a tragicomedy of alarmingly unpredictable consequences for the entire planet.

Existing movie models that come to mind include Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove, in which a series of errors triggered by a manifestly mad military man leads the world to a nuclear apocalypse.

The alternative to all this is business as usual – an insipid version of business as usual

And of course there is Being There, in which a childish character played by Peter Sellers, best known for his hilarious Inspector Clouseau roles, ends up being nominated for the US presidency.

Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the jokes have already started. On November 5, The New York Times ran a story about how the Iranian regime no longer feels the need to encourage its followers to burn effigies of Uncle Sam or Lady Liberty.

That is because The Great Satan is already ridiculing itself plenty. The ayatollahs even greenlighted the broadcast of the live debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton on state television.

The New York Times cited an Iranian analyst who said that there was no better way to illustrate how “idiotic,” “corrupt” and “hideous” the superpower’s political system truly is.

The residents of most countries in the world, whether these be run by religious or secular governments, left-wing or right-wing administrations, despotic or democratic leaders, have very likely reached the same conclusions.

Leaders like Trump have sometimes reached power through coups, but never through free choice, at least not in modern times, and much less so in a country that’s supposed to be developed. It would be inconceivable in today’s Europe to have such a buffoon become a serious candidate to lead his nation.

The US press has tried to find solace in a comparison of Trump and Silvio Berlusconi. But they have nothing in common

The US press has tried to find solace in a comparison of Trump and Silvio Berlusconi. But they have nothing in common. Compared with Trump, Berlusconi possesses all the solemnity of Charles de Gaulle, the astuteness of Winston Churchill, the sagacity of Nelson Mandela and the tact of the Queen of England. It is true that Berlusconi has acted like a clown, but (pardon my saying so) he was only the prime minister of friendly Italy, not the man with access to the button that could destroy the planet.

If the US has proven anything at all, it’s that it is truly a land of opportunity. Perhaps what motivates the political ignoramuses who will vote for Trump today is the notion that if he can make it into the White House, so could any of them.

If he manages it, we are guaranteed a good show. Envision Cantinflas, the Mexican comedian, playing the role of Caligula in the modern version of the decline and fall of the empire.

The alternative to all this is business as usual – an insipid version of business as usual. Hillary Clinton is neither a comic character nor a blockbuster star. But if she is declared the winner a few hours from now, we will all sleep better for it, even if we end up falling asleep in front of the television news.

English version by Susana Urra.

More information