Casting America’s Latest Reality TV: The Presidential Election

In just about one year, Americans will be casting their votes and deciding who will become the next Commander-in-Chief of the United…


In just about one year, Americans will be casting their votes and deciding who will become the next Commander-in-Chief of the United States. With all the time remaining until then — and even before the state primary elections — you’d think presidential candidates would barely be getting into the swing of their campaigns and slowly beginning their attempt to endear themselves to us.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Donald J. Trump and company have been shoved down our throats for over 100 days now and we’re already waist deep in who these people are — er, claim to be. I’ve already spent hours during debates wondering if Dr. Ben Carson is suffering through a contact high from all the anesthesia given to his patients and I’ve lost countless hours wondering how the hell Bernie Sanders would look with a full head of his natural hair color and a pair of shoes from somewhere other than Payless.

The point is, with all the media coverage, campaign speeches and social media accounts, candidates are no longer seen as simply politicians with varying values and policies. Candidates are now viewed as characters with a wide array of personalities that are dissected into “likability” traits with only a sprinkle of what they will actually be trying to do as president.

The current media coverage points to a shift in how we view the interactions between candidates because politicians are now going after each other with regularity in order to get a step ahead through criticism.

A blend of real-life characters, raw drama and 24/7 television coverage. These three things sound more like a reality TV show than a race to become President of the United States of America.

So let’s cast this show. As with any reality series, there’s a limited number of spots available for production and with three Democrats and 827 Republicans still in the race, we must only choose ten of the best candidates based on their character dynamic to enter the “house.” We’ll do this Bachelor style and hand each contestant a rose to let them know they’ve made it.

1. Hillary Clinton — The girl you love to hate, but can’t leave alone.

Hillary Clinton has been the Democratic front-runner since she lost the race to Barack Obama in 2008. Everyone knew she’d be back and everyone knew she’d be the candidate to beat. She has been portrayed as every bit of that role this electoral season and no matter how her trustworthy ratings are looking, every candidate is playing catch-up to the Clinton machine.

Hillary’s email debacle has largely loomed over her campaign and Republicans are quick to continuously pound us over the head with the notion that she can’t be trusted as president. But Hillary has steadfastly become the alpha-human on the cast that rises as the focal point by being a real political star and flat out better than everyone else.

Throughout many of the debates, candidates like Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie regularly name drop Clinton in order to set themselves up as superior alternatives. To be fair, Democrat Lincoln Chafee also subtly went after her on stage, but if you still think Chafee is a discontinued 1996 four-door sedan, then at this point you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.

Republicans like to tout her email server slip-up and criticize her foreign policy as Secretary of State but what they fail to recognize is that they are constantly setting her up as the standard that everyone else is chasing to beat. It’s like the members of a show coming home from work and running into the confessional to ramble on about how they’d do a better job just because of all attention she gets.

The truth is that every candidate — Republican or Democrat — knows she is the current gold standard. Making Congress look like fools for 11 hours straight will do that for you. They despise her because they know she has the inside track to the White House and the cast member with the most attention on them is traditionally the one everybody hates because that’s who they want to be. That person on this reality show is Hillary Clinton.

2. Donald J. Trump — The loose cannon.

The Donald. I mean, is there really that much for me to say? He’s been spouting off his mouth since July and hasn’t stopped since. He’s had the multiple rants on Mexican immigrants, a spat with Megyn Kelly over “unfair” questions about his misogyny, support for anti-Muslim rhetoric and the sharp verbal knockout punches to fellow candidates on the debate stage.

Trump is the guy you know is constantly suppressing an outburst and when the great big one comes, it’s just too good of television fodder to turn away. The worst part about someone of this ilk is the people that follow along knowing this type of explosion is possible at any time because no matter how bad the outburst or rant, his backers will always give him the support he craves, even if he’s lying about something that’s on his own website.

Television networks love the loose cannon because people will always watch so they don’t miss the next great moment. And even when he’s not creating TV gold, the networks will squeeze every last bit of drama from someone they know brings home the bacon.

3. Dr. Ben Carson — The low-key, strung-out guy.

Dr. Carson is a really strange fellow. The loose cannon has previously called candidates out for lacking energy but if those other guys are low on energy then what the hell is Ben Carson low on? He is the incarnation of the person who’s more boring than watching paint dry and yet somehow, he’s taking some of the lead from Trump in the polls.

Carson is so soft spoken, so reserved and so mild-mannered that he stands out quite vividly from the rest of his constituents. He is so much of all of those things that the only way I can fathom him acquiring those traits is by overexposure to the anesthesia given to his patients while working as a neurosurgeon.

This makes him the low-key, strung-out guy because while everyone is babbling on about ISIS, Hillary’s email and taxes, Carson is comparing abortions to slavery, saying the Jews could’ve prevented the Holocaust if they had guns and pushing the idea of Creationism even though he’s a scientist. I mean if that doesn’t sound like someone on opiates then maybe I’m the one on anesthesia.

While watching him speak during the most recent Republican debate, I found myself wondering how many horse tranquilizers he took before going on stage and how many times I’d bang my head against a wall listening to him give a State of the Union address. How this guy can galvanize such an angry and fueled Conservative base is beyond me, but he’s made his way through the selection process and onto this show so he’s doing something right.

4. Bernie Sanders — The dopey, awkward guy that’s too genuine to not like.

There’s something about genuineness that just makes people feel good. Bernie has never pretended to be anything other than what he actually is: a Democratic Socialist, a Brooklyn Jew and a champion for the poor. He has also never pretended to even try to tame that wild head of gray hair.

Chris Christie will tell you Bernie wants to raise taxes to 90 percent but what do you know, it’s Christie’s character type falling flat on its face trying to muscle around Bernie’s. The left is moving in a direction where a weird guy true to himself is more desirable and that’s exactly what Bernie is.

He’s the guy you don’t understand because while everyone else wears the best clothes they have to dinner, he’s wearing the $25 shoes he bought at Warehouse Shoe Sale and the same shirt from Marshall’s he wore last night. Bernie is the not-so-cool guy that has true moral fiber and the ability to unite people that want more in life.

5. Jeb Bush — The trying-too-hard, tag-along guy.

Poor Jeb, he never really had a chance. Considering his brother’s shortcomings as Commander-in-Chief and his insistence on defending him, Jeb became the candidate that is now just trying to catch onto a coattail of any of the other contestants blowing by him. You know it’s time for desperate measures when you resort to fantasy football and Rob Gronkowski to make your self seem more appealing.

Trump stomped him in the first two debates and his understudy, Rubio, sent him off with his tail between his legs after a failed attempt at calling for Rubio to resign. While Trump, Carson and Rubio are getting escorted in, Jeb has quickly become the character at the front of the club begging the bouncer, a.k.a. American voters, to let him in because he’s with those guys. If this were Survivor, Jeb seems the likeliest to be voted off the island.

6. Ted Cruz — The Christian.

Yes, Ted Cruz is that character. I can’t remember how many times he’s spouted how desperately America needs a Conservative Cristian, but he is definitely the one who is not ashamed to preach to you about the importance of Jesus in your life.

Ted Cruz looks like a pastor, speaks like a pastor and his dad is a pastor, one that is even crazier the the younger Cruz. Cruz is the guy that will not let anyone eat until he says grace before each meal and won’t stay out past 9 p.m. on Saturdays so he can be well-rested for Sunday service.

Far be it for me to tell someone how to live their life, but come on, Cruz, live a little bit. Have some fun on that stage every once in a while instead of reminding the American people how the liberal left wants to erode the Christian values that made his country great in the first place; especially since the country was founded on the freedom of religion.

7. Marco Rubio — The young hotshot.

Rubio is actually carving out quite a place for himself in the GOP onslaught of candidates. His clear speech, educated thought process and clean look have propelled him to the forefront as well as the aforementioned hand to the face of Jeb Bush.

Rubio is clearly defining himself as the young stud in the house, albeit the stud that never shows up to work and will probably not have drink at the bar. But he’s young and good-looking and when you have old, wrinkly guys like The Donald creeping innocent women out, there has to be a balance and Rubio is becoming the somewhat-sane young gun.

Every show always has the person that blossoms and becomes a real player as the season moves on. Rubio is becoming that guy and the front-runners should keep an eye on the youngster with the little-boy, comb-over haircut.

8. Carly Fiorina — The girl that will bite your head off if she’s wronged.

When Carly Fiorina speaks, it’s rather easy to look through that thinly veiled guise of a compassionate, Conservative mother that cares about the middle class and is fighting against “crony capitalism.” She commands your attention when she speaks and even partially convinces you that manufactured videotapes are real, well, not really but she puts on a good denying act.

Looking at Fiorina, she cocks her head to the left, gives that crooked smile she has and immediately it’s apparent that she’s a praying mantis in the flesh and will rip you from limb to limb if you go against her. I can’t help but have flashbacks to Jody Foster in Elysium when thinking of how she would run the Oval Office.

She’s the cast member that will go off on you, waking up the whole house when you walk into her room drunk and eat her Double-Stuffed Oreos. Fiorina also comes off as the part of the crew that takes herself way too seriously and refuses to let herself have the same amount of fun as everyone else because she has to protect her image. No one likes this character because she’s the girl everyone gossips about after splitting away from her at the nightclub.

9. Martin O’Malley — The square.

Lord knows I love Martin O’Malley. So, full discretion, I’m a little biased towards this man. I should actually clarify that I’m biased towards his policy because the guy is a total square. I know the mainstream liberal ideology rather well and this guy has the values to get on the same page with the left-leaning base. Unfortunately, he just does not seem to have the personality of either a Hillary or a Bernie.

I get the fact that Governor O’Malley likes to play the guitar, but who in that campaign brain trust told him singing “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift on The View was a good move? You can’t move the Democratic needle without the support of young Americans and I can let the governor know first hand that Taylor Swift is not on the club playlist. That DJ gets booed, and that’s why O’Malley’s rendition was largely ignored.

Bernie speaks with force and Hillary has her own flair. Governor O’Malley speaks like a pastor to a party that’s growing towards a significant non-religious base. His personality doesn’t come through his speeches and interviews so he is the boring guy who only gets shown on TV when he’s in the confessional speaking about the drama the major players are involved in.

10. Chris Christie — The fake bully.

Chris Christie looks like a guy that would bully his way around his jurisdiction, and what do you know? He bullied his way around New Jersey when he didn’t get what he wanted.

I can’t decide whether he truly wants to be President or Mob Boss of America. In the most recent Republican debate in Boulder, Colo., Christie claimed that of he was the nominee, then Hillary Clinton wouldn’t get within 10 miles of the White House. Christie’s Tony Soprano impersonation also seeps into his constant debate reminders that he’d prosecute everyone for everything under federal law and that said law will be respected.

Why is he trying to be such a tough guy? He isn’t a husband on Real Housewives of New Jersey and he doesn’t need to continuously assert that he’s the toughest person on stage because he’s a red governor in a blue state. Still, no reality show is complete without the pretend tough guy who just feels the need to flex the muscle he doesn’t really have over “weaker” cast-mates.

Well, there we have it. The cast of the Real World: Capitol Hill. Complete with hotshots, loose cannons, bullies, boring people and intimidating people. How the house dynamic ends in the future and who moves out depends on us, but hopefully we’ll have the presence of mind to make our decisions based on something other than the personality traits we’ve come to recognize from reality TV show characters. This is the presidential election after all.

Header graphic by Albert Serna Jr.