Dramatic Rationalities: Electoral Theater in the Age of Trump

Mark Chou, Michael Ondaatje

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    In April 2015, just as the campaign for the 2016 U.S. presidential election was kicking off, The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson (2015) opined that much of what counts for election coverage today has become “indistinguishable from theater criticism: Its chief concerns are storyline, costumes, and the quality of public performances.” According to Thompson, political journalists who cover election campaigns as theater critics not only conflate style with substance, they also popularize the notion that “the best actors will make the best candidates (and, by extension, the best presidents).” Citizens who depend on the media for reliable campaign coverage and substantive analyses of candidates’ policies will either be left unsatisfied or none the wiser. In the worst-case scenario, the public will begin to believe that style, performance, and drama are what ultimately matter when it comes to understanding electoral politics. That is bad both for individual citizens and for democracy as a whole.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWhy Irrational Politics Appeals: Understanding the Allure of Trump
    Editors Mari Fitzduff
    Place of PublicationCalifornia
    PublisherPraeger Publishers
    ISBN (Print)978-1-4408-5514-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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