Sonny Bunch: How Trump is the bear from The Revenant

By Sonny Bunch comment

Leonardo DiCaprio as explorer Hugh Glass in the film The Revenant.
Leonardo DiCaprio as explorer Hugh Glass in the film The Revenant.

COMMENT

As best as I can tell, one-time Speaker of the House and failed vice-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich can only discuss the 2016 presidential election in terms of references to movies he's seen recently.

For instance, here's BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray quoting Newt Gingrich:

Gingrich: "I come from the guard dog branch. And guard dogs believe you kill wolves to keep sheep safe".

Astute readers will recognise this as the central parable of American Sniper, Clint Eastwood's retelling of the life of Chris Kyle. Kyle, a wolf, had to protect us all (the sheep) from terrorists, and he did so by snipering a whole mess of Iraqis. I wouldn't have thought much of that except for the fact that Gingrich has, repeatedly, also used The Revenant as a metaphor for the 2016 election.

"Gingrich compares Trump to grizzly bear in The Revenant," the Washington Examiner reported in January.

"Gingrich: 'Trump is the grizzly bear in The Revenant," wrote The Hill in March. And on Tuesday, at the Republican National Convention, he was at it again: "Newt just compared Trump to the bear in The Revenant."

Now. You don't exactly need to be a, ah, close reader of the film's text to understand why comparing Donald Trump to the bear in The Revenant is a really, really dumb idea if you're a supporter of Donald Trump.

Let's just start with the obvious: the bear loses.

Yes, granted, it does a lot of damage to Leonardo DiCaprio's Hugh Glass, ripping up his back and leaving him on the verge of death. But the giant, fearsome grizzly bear - for all its strength, for all its viciousness, for all its energetic roaring - ends up getting killed by a puny human a fraction of its size.

If you're a critic of Trump, however, the comparison makes more sense. You just have to understand that in this metaphor Leo isn't Hillary Clinton. Leo is the GOP. Allow me to explain.

Trump is doing a really good job of alienating basically every core voting group. His support among young voters is "historically low," according to a survey by the Harvard University Institute of Politics. He's actually running in third place with millennials, trailing both Clinton and third party candidate Gary Johnson.

His unfavourables are through the roof with virtually every demographic: 94 per cent of blacks, 89 per cent of Hispanics, 77 per cent of women, 74 per cent of college grads, 70 per cent of all adults. He's literally getting zero per cent of the black vote in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, if polling is to be believed.

The only reason Clinton isn't blowing Trump out of the water is because people, rightfully, don't really trust her either. For instance, a majority of Americans think she should've been charged with a crime for her email shenanigans. We've somehow managed to pit two of the least-liked people in America against each other for the highest office in the land. It's kind of stunning, if you think about it.

Yes, Trump is terrible and hated by everyone except for white males without a college degree. We know that. What does it have to do with The Revenant?

In The Revenant, the bear attack is only the beginning: The rest of the film shows DiCaprio undergoing a long, painful journey to recovery.

Similarly, the awful numbers Trump is putting up with younger voters suggest that his damage to the party's brand is only beginning. Trump not only wiped out "the deepest GOP bench" ever, but also his win forced an entire class of GOP stars to kiss his ring, thus tainting them forever in the minds of a generation of younger voters who see the New York City billionaire as a terrible person who has no business with his finger on the button.

If the 2016 election is the opening act of The Revenant, then the 2020 election will be the aftermath of the bear attack: an extended sequence of Leo/the GOP suffering horribly while death hovers just above. And 2024 will be the portion of the film where Leo/the GOP learn to move again, grunting and groaning all the while. It won't be until 2028 that Leo/the GOP begin to regain their strength, moving with speed and coordination.

Perhaps by 2032 the GOP will be strong enough to fight one-on-one with Tom Hardy/the Democratic Party. But this lifelong Republican isn't getting his hopes up.

- Washington Post

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