Last Fall, Sesame Street's parody of "Donald Grump" made the rounds as Trump surged to the top of the Republican field. The skit, airing over a decade ago, sagely encapsulates the 2016 candidacy of Trump. Oscar the Grouch proudly notes that "Donald Grump happens to have the most trash than any grump in the world" and boy was he right.
The segment opens with a host of grouches chanting "Grump! Grump! Grump! Grump!" It goes on to skewer Donald Grump for "being loaded with trash." They sing: "He has so much trash it spills out of his hands, and that is why we are his biggest fans." Donald Grump mercilessly slings insults throughout the piece taking glee that he has the power to hire and fire at will. Elmo shows up to lend a helping hand. He turns out to be kind and competent, which is not rewarded by Grump as he fires Elmo for being too nice.
Flash forward a decade. The Donald Grump of Sesame Street is now the GOP front-runner. Seriously--he is on the verge of becoming the Republican nominee for President. His mark on the 2016 campaign has been undeniable. Trump has called his fellow Republicans "losers," "chokers," and "liars." He's openly questioned how one could vote for a face like Carly Fiorina's and intimated that debate moderator Megyn Kelly might have been on her period because of the questions she asked him. He's gone so far as to say he could shoot somebody in the street and still not lose votes. The list goes on and on and seems to get worse by the day.
Looking at the low level of discourse, his Republican opponents would likely agree with Oscar's prescient tune that Donald Grump's "trash is more trashy" and "his name equals trash." And this would be coming from those in his own party! If he was not doing so well, it would seem that some good old Sesame Street values (tolerance, good manners, and civility) would do him some good. But, it seems the worse he behaves the better he does. If only Maria could come talk some sense into voters.
Trump's insult-a-palooza has caused quite a stir among political observers. He has managed to steer clear of specific policy pronouncements by insulting his detractors and shouting louder than his opponents. Thus far, this strategy has worked. As in the Sesame Street segment, he has lived up to the Donald Grump persona--bullying, bombastic, and overbearing. Trump is not the kind of boss most people would like to have, nor is he the type of friend most people want in their circles. Parents would not want to raise their children to behave like Trump. On second thought, most children actually behave better than him.
As ugly as this race has been, it is not new. In the midst of the election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson had said that rule under the Federalists was akin to a "reign of witches." In turn, Alexander Hamilton claimed that the election was a contest to save the country from the "fangs of Jefferson." Hyperbolic? Absolutely! Today, Jefferson is etched in stone atop Mount Rushmore, while Hamilton is enjoying great success on Broadway. Trump has already made his splash in the world of entertainment and there is probably nothing more that he would like than to see his own face chiseled among America's greatest Presidents on a renamed "Mount Trumpmore."
Back in 2005, Donald Grump sang: "Who do you wish you all could be? I'm the trashiest, I'm the grouchiest!" Sesame Street put Trump's hubris on full display. By the end of the skit, Donald Grump could not believe his ears when Elmo says he does not want Donald's trash. Grump exclaims: "But everyone wants my trash!" Looking at the current state of the race, it would appear he is at least partially correct, as candidate Trump has enjoyed surprising success. Yet, I hope most Americans, like Elmo, do not want the trash that he is selling in 2016.
Perhaps Trump and Mitt Romney can find some common ground over concerns relating to Sesame Street. For the rest of us, we should ask whether the hero of Oscar the Grouch is fit to be our President. Let's take the trash out, not vote for it.