*Spoilers I guess, but if you haven’t seen GoT season 1 by now that’s on you*
No two things in recent memory have so firmly held their place in the American(and global) spotlight like Donald Trump and Game of Thrones, and for similar reasons. Both offer their audience thrills in a myriad of mystifying and macabre ways; deceit, lies, bravado, plain-faced sexism, violence, the list goes on. We look to both of these as sources of gleeful disgust; what terrible thing is going to be said next, what gut-wrenching policy will he try to enact tomorrow, he can’t just DO that can he?(Try and guess which were about Trump and which were about Joffrey, it’s a doozy).
Today though, were going to look at a more specific analogy; Trump and Mark Addy’s kingly buffoon: Robert Baratheon. Now at first glance the comparison is pretty obvious; they’re both rotund men with a big voice and limited vocabulary when it comes to the opposite sex, they don’t seem to know what to do with their hair, they won their crown from a more qualified blonde person, and they both have lithe wives from a different kingdom who we have to assume hate them.
It’s easy here to say, “oh ha ha ha, sure got him, Trump and a fat, drunk fictional Lord are superficially the same,” and move along. What is disturbing here is that they are NOT just similar on a surface level, no, the unfortunate truth here is that George R.R. Martin’s portly lord of Storm’s End embodies all that we find so disquieting about Trump. All of his medieval behavior and primitive gusto is unnervingly apparent in not just trump’s campaign, but his new day-to-day as well.
Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed Robert Baratheon. He’s one of my favorite characters in both the books and television series for a myriad of reasons, and while his actions and behavior are reminiscent of our new president, as an audience member we can tell that The King of the Andals and the First men was coming from a more genuine place; a misguided sense of love and honor. The same can not be said for Mr.Trump.
If we want to start from the beginning, what ties these two together is winning. Their identities are knotted into being victorious. There is no Robert, there is no Trump, if they aren’t successful. Both spurned by what they took as a powerful slight, Robert’s fiance being kidnapped, Trump’s aggressive disagreement with the Obama administration, they decided it was time to take things into their own hands, and rally the common folk. Our Baratheon went about by gathering minor lords and kingdoms that he was tied to or defeated, Trump did it by mocking the other Republican candidates into falling in line. The narrative however remains the same, by raging against the current ruler, calling him unjust, unfair, evil, what have you, they were able to convince a lower-middle class into supporting their claim, and doing it well enough to win a throne.
So they win their war(or campaign). They do so with, what could be called uncouth, tampering from an outside power led by a pragmatic bald man(Tywin Lannister / Vladimir Putin), and from the moment they assume power, all they can focus in is how their victory wasn’t enough, Robert still consumed wholly with his adversaries death being poor compensation for his slights, and Trump padding election numbers and inauguration attendance. Their goal was never to rule, it was to win, and this defines not just their personalities, but their reign.
Now in the process of their winning we discover allot about them. Chiefly, a tumultuous grasp on reality, and an atrocious understanding of the opposite sex. They both see themselves as ladies men, womanizers of the highest caliber, and express little to no real empathy for those who they, as they put it, fuck. Robert makes a name for himself as a man who tries to get in the pants of married women, and wouldn’t you know it, so does Trump(lest we never forget “Grab’em by the Pussy”). They promise the world to both their constituents and those who catch their passing fancy, and rarely(if ever) deliver. They become so obsessed with enormous money sinks(jousting tournaments / ineffective walls) that they threaten to drive their nations into economic ruin, ignoring any real governing in order to pursue vain, meaningless glory. They keep their heads to deep in the clouds, and feet far from the ground, to devastating effect.
The scariest take-away here is what they end up doing to those who support them. Robert’s actions, and poor political acumen meant that his actions, as they echoed for the coming years, directly took a toll on the smallfolk who put him in his seat of power. He surrounded himself with unsympathetic millionaires(Lord Petyr Baelish, Renly, etc…) who’s lack of caring lead to the death and destruction of the impoverished masses. We are already seeing this with Trump. The swamp is not drained. His actions are loosing him support, and quick glance at twitter shows those who voted for him are becoming disillusioned with the imbalance between his ability to win, and his ability to govern.
While we know how things end for Robert however, the same can not be said for Mr. Trump. To the extent of our knowledge they do not share the same lust for boar hunting, so it seems likely Trump’s presidency is going to be causing damage a fair bit longer than Robert’s reign. Things are murky for us Americans at this juncture. The one thing I am both confident in, and hopeful for, however, is that these two men’s demise will ultimately be at the hands of their own hubris.