Opinion: Hulk Hogan and Donald Trump

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

I confess that some years ago when I was a callow fellow, I went to a professional wrestling show in upstate Glens Falls, New York. It was great fun.

Here was an array of steroid-built muscleman acting out morality plays in the ring dressed in togs and flying across the canvass pulverizing one and other. Inevitably there were the good guys against bad guys.

As interesting as it was watching these wrestlers do their thing to the inevitable scripted conclusion, I was just as fascinated by the rapt attention of the frenzied fans, thousands, who filled the seats of these arenas. They were true believers. It occurred to me that most really bought into this imagery and reveled in the brutality. They bellowed at the bad guys and nearly fainted in exhaustion cheering on their favorites. This was their opportunity to vent in a big way and cheer on the wrestlers who would bring down the hated enemy. What was interesting and more than a bit scary is that most of the fans thought that this was reality. At the height of the loathing toward Iran following the hostage takings, Hulk Hogan, that all American example of virtue, won the championship from the hated Iron Sheik. Oh what a night! Oh what celebration! We felt good to be Americans again!

Watching a recent packed arena rally for Donald Trump I got the same feeling as I did all those years ago watching Hulk Hogan clobber his opponent. But Donald Trump is no Hulk Hogan, although his substance is about the same. But the fans…Oh my God the fans, they are reacting to “The Donald” in the same frenzied way that Hogan’s fans reacted to him. In both cases, they think that their hero is real. As Donald Trump blusters his way through the Republican primaries with provocative rhetoric, bragging and posturing, his fandom eats it up.

I cannot even begin to enumerate the many people and groups that he regularly insults. His anti-immigrant, religious intolerance, pro-torture and full throated embrace of simplistic answers to complex problems is more and more frightening. Is this to be the exemplar of America to the rest of the world? His temperament is closer to Mel Gibson than his new found paragon, Ronald Reagan. He is no conservative, nor is he a libertarian or any particular political orientation. He is a showman and an opportunist of the first order. I am truly amazed and scared that he has come this far in the political process.

But what scares me even more are his millions of supporters who are undeterred that Donald Trump as a candidate for President of the United States offers no real agenda other than “making America great again.” In fact, they seem to delight in the cartoonish quality of the campaign. His preferred tactic seems to be to pander to the worst instincts in people. It has an eerie and sickeningly familiar echo to Germany in the early 1930’s. The Trump supporters come out in very big numbers to applaud their leader, although they cannot tell you much of anything that their standard bearer will actually do if he is President, other than spit on their perceived enemies. But what they do know is that their man gives voice to every dark unspoken impulse that they harbor about all the “those people” in this country who they believe have denied them their personal success or denied this county its national success. It is easy to blame “those people.”

I still remember way back when while watching that wrestling exhibition in Glens Falls, several guys in the back row with red, white and blue bandannas holding a sign that said “Hulk Hogan for President.”

I thought at the time how funny that was. It is not funny anymore.

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11 thoughts on “Opinion: Hulk Hogan and Donald Trump

  1. Assemblyman Sanders,

    My late mom used to like watching “professional wrestling.” One day my uncle came over and the topic became her interest saying something like, ‘Boy, it amazing how they can do this night after night. How can they survive?’

    My uncle (and her brother) responded ‘Don’t you realize that it’s not real. Those various stunts are choreographed and no one really gets hurt.’

    ‘Oh no, you wrong’ she said. ‘I know that it’s real! Often I see real blood.’ She continued her belief system until she died at age 88.

    Ergo, P. T. Barnum was right. As far as Trump goes, the number of uneducated, unwashed who lack even a modicum of sophistication is massive in this nation.

    My mother’s belief vis-à-vis pro wrestling did no harm. However, Trump’s unreality show campaign can do great damage to this nation. It all began with Sarah Palin and the dumbing down of our entire educational system which now hardly teaches basic civics and history.

    • Since you’re not able to see your own biases I’ll help you out…”As far as Trump goes, the number of uneducated, unwashed who lack even a modicum of sophistication is massive in this nation.”

      • Fred, OK, I’ll byte…

        Firstly, I agree that few persons can see their own biases as they view them as well thought out opinions. I do write for many publications — but they are consistent with the mission of the outlet. So for T&V almost all of my comments
        have to do with the interests of the readers.

        Having gotten my interest of politics from the either the DNA or environment of my father. I see the nation in trouble and the reactions to Trump and Sen. Sanders reflects this. I have made comment on Bernie in a letter published in the print edition — and I see him as an intellectual idealist and his main purpose is to influence Hillary.

        As Mrs. Clinton seems to have evolved from decent person to a political hack. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In fact the only politician I fully respected was Daniel Patrick Moynihan who served both parties.

        But, Trump is an exceptional pseudo-politician. He has used his skills learned on his TV reality show to, in the main, to get the sucker vote. Since T&V folks will be impacted as all U. S. citizens would be should he become president it is relevant. His vulgar campaign is filled with insults, lies and no substance.

        When he won massively in Nevada, one of his remarks was: “I love the uneducated people.” — as well he should.

        All people are flawed — but some far more than others. The G. O. P. realizes this and NATIONAL REVIEW (the conservative intellectual magazine) published an entire issue which was unanimous in their condemnation of him.

        He is in the active process of destroying our country whether he wins or loses.

        One more comment, Fred: I find some of your remarks aimed at me to suggest that you are challenged in terms of basic civility.

        • The Trump quote was:

          “We won with highly educated. We won the poorly educated. I love the poorly educated. We’re the smartest people, the most loyal people.”

          If you actually listened to it rather than taking another’s opinion of events, you’d have half a chance of comprehending the news. As you can see from the quote (or actually listened to it, Trump was likening himself to the poorly educated while poking at the concept of ‘exit polls’).

          If you don’t listen to something in its entirety, you should never report,retweet or think you know what you’re talking about.

          Chowes and Steve Sanders should spare us from their frequent nonsensical musings.

  2. Re: StuyTowner since 2001

    Yes. But, polls (both GOP and Dem.) demonstrate that college grads favor Bernie and those without any college favor “the Trumpster.” And both demos are overwhelmingly young. I would expand but don’t want to subject you my “frequent nonsensical musings.”

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