How American politics work according to Full House
... or how Full House predicted Donald Trump
This rant originally appeared on Episode 10 of NW NERD (35:45).
Just a fair warning, this NW NERD blog post is going to have a slight political angle on it. You’ll pick up on that as soon as I note this -- how a lot of people were surprised when Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. I, sort of, was one of them. I’ll explain that “sort of” soon.
Nearly 3 million Americans were surprised at Trump’s win – at least. That was how many more people voted for Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton. Actually, perhaps more than 7 million more were shocked, as well. That’s how many people voted for third-party candidates.
But nearly 63 million did vote for the Republican. And that, too, is surprising given that ... well, just look at the guy. I’m not talking about his policy stances, rather, the man himself. He does not present a stable, sober, intelligent persona. To put it bluntly – he comes of rather nuts. So it is difficult for those who did not vote for him to understand why anyone would favor a presidential candidate who seems to have the temperament of an emotionally unstable, rabid monkey.
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I know, I know -- how rude.
I apologize in advance if I come off arrogant, but I’m not too surprised and I can understand how Trump won. Not because I find his rhetoric logical (it’s not), but because I learned a while ago how American politics operate. And I learned this because I watched Full House.
Yes, Full House. The ’80s / ’90s sitcom about a widower, his three daughters, and the two uncles who pitch in to raise them. America works a lot like Full House. And if we’re not careful, we can end up with a tragic episode.
Full House, America, and Trump
The American people are a lot like the kids in Full House – DJ, Stephanie and Michelle. In each episode, they end up having some kind of problem. They need it solved, and so they go to the people in charge of the house, usually starting with dad – Danny. Now, Danny is boring, buttoned up, a nerd. He has no flare. But he’s likely to tell it to you straight. He’ll tell the kids what they need to know whether they like it or not. The problem can be solved, but it takes some patience, hard work, humility, or some other good virtue that the kids don’t want to hear. They generally want the quickest solution, the easiest, or the one that spares them some embarrassment.
So they go into the next room looking for a better answer that fits their perspective. They find Joey – the fun uncle. He’s ready to help, and he’ll provide and answer with some humor. But he is a responsible uncle, after all, and he may not give the “right answer” either. So the kids cut-it-out into the next room where they find Uncle Jesse.
You know Uncle Jesse – the cool uncle. He’s the stylish, handsome, rock n’ roll man upstairs. He’s gonna give you an answer, and reference Elvis while doing it. But yet again, he’s an adult, and he’s going to ultimately tell the kids a responsible answer. That’s no good. They’re seeking the fun, cool quick solution that doesn’t require much of them.
Side note: Every now and then you might end up with a solution from Aunt Becky. But they never made as much use of her as they probably should have (glass ceiling).
The kids – the American people – go through the folks in charge; the people with experience despite their personal biases. And if they don’t get the answer they want, and fast, they get restless. After all, they only have about 30 minutes – 22 minutes without commercials – to solve this problem.
That’s when it happens. Someone comes walking through the door in this restless moment. They play on fears. They give targets of blame to exercise those fears and insecurities. They have funny words and catch phrases like “Tannerinos” and “bigly.” And they sound nuts. But at this point who cares? This is when the kids turn to Kimmy Gibbler ... have mercy.
Remember Kimmy Gibbler? She’s the next door neighbor that’s always around, even though she makes everyone in the house uncomfortable. She's rather odd with a quirky – if not dated – style. She talks fast and confident and at the same time – crazy.
With that quirky fast-talking confidence, the kids turn to her -- aww nuts. She leads them to her solution – one that doesn’t require sacrifice, or patience, or much thinking at all. In fact, it’s best not to think too much when Kimmy’s in charge.
But what do we end up with at the end of the show, after Kimmy Gibbler has taken over? The bathroom is flooded, someone has crashed Joey’s car through the kitchen, and Comet the dog is lost somewhere in the mix. Meanwhile, Kimmy has grown more fond of Nina and Melissa – two older kids that have interests outside the Tanner house. They ditch and go to the mall. The problem is much, much worse than when the show started.
In the end, Danny, Joey and Jesse (sometimes aunt Becky) have to come in and save the day – with their boring, hard-work solutions that take time. DJ, Stephanie and Michelle should have stuck with good ol’ dad to begin with. Even Joey or Jesse.
And here’s why I should have seen Trump’s win coming more than anything else. I’ve watched Fuller House – and yes, I’m ashamed to admit that. Fuller House is the spin off that came 21 years after the original show (thank you Netflix). DJ becomes the head of the house. But who else is in the house now? Who has gotten inside? Kimmy Gibbler, that’s who. She’s in the house now. Oh, Mylanta.
Here’s the thing (cue violins): No problem worth solving can be fixed in 30 minutes – 22 minutes without commercials. No one person can truly have all the answers. It generally takes everyone in a house to fix major problems. Everyone has to take part. Problems require patience and hard work. Humility trumps pride when it comes to getting things done. Problems can be solved with intelligence and skills found in a full house -- involving everyone from every room in the house. When someone comes in saying “Only I can save the day,” we should all question that before we say, "you got it, dude." When someone offers shortcuts, we should be skeptical. It is difficult and hard to work together, but the right thing to do is rarely the easy thing to do. Nothing worthwhile is easy. Anyone who says otherwise is nothing more than a Kimmy Gibbler.