Red Clown, White Clown

Fête de Neuilly-sur-Seine, Le Cirque Corvi, postcard c. 1900

The US election is something pretty abstract to me: what the candidate say to get elected, what they do once elected, and how it pans out are pretty disconnected things – even though the result can be felt worldwide.

The election process feels like a system which was meant to be simple, but which is very flawed, and the optimizations and tricks that make it work gives a baroque machine. This year at least I was not the only one who could not predict what it would spit out.

When I was a kid, I loved the circus, and the clowns. There was a pretty well established structure, with a white clown, who is basically an arrogant intellectual, and the red clown (also called the Auguste), who is a rude, emotional and largely irrational idiot. Everybody roots for the red clown. I have the feeling this year’s US election is red clown vs white clown. On one hand, an irrational, emotional, buffoon; on the other side, a person who is part of the system and has no connection with regular people.

Politics is always a bit of a circus, and US politics seem to have gone to the extreme. People who could not predict the rise of Trump just did not realise that the clowns rule the circus – they can interfere with other acts, challenge the authority of the ringmaster. This is also in my opinion why Trump has a good chance of winning: everybody roots for the red clown.

In Eric Idle’s book , there are some discussions about these two roles, and the fact that while we laugh with the red clown, a lot of hard work comes from the white clown. I have the feeling this also applies to the US election: Trump does not have to do much, just let Hilary play the white clown…

Fête de Neuilly-sur-Seine, Le Cirque Corvi, postcard c. 1900 – Public Domain.

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