The US poll is like a card game that reminds you that the joker often comes up trumps

Trump might be more surprised by his victory than Clinton by her defeat. But such is the world we call electoral politics.

A semiotics expert shrewdly watching politics once told me a man can only become president of the United States if he looks like a cartoon. Think of Ronald Reagan or Bush I and II. It is true for India also. Narendra Modi looks like a piece from Madame Tussauds. Donald Trump looks like a leftover from Mad magazine. Hilary Clinton carries the weight of history and the historicity of her husband. She is like a bad piece out of the New Yorker while Trump reads like a graphic novel. His daughter and wife are perfect accompaniments, nay accomplices, to his career. Clinton appears like a set of broken promises, bits of glass that do not connect as a kaleidoscope. Trump is a cartoon whose career will be a caricature of his promised self.

Reality, values, consistency play a serious part in the construction of both. Clinton is a collage of broken moments – feminist democratic, internationalist. She has played pied piper to many multinationals. She sounds like a hypocrite, a part of the upper-class establishment that talks values but insists others should pursue it. She is real, historical and tired.

Trump is sheer fiction. His reality stems from his power to exaggerate. He is part American salesman, part playboy playing out the repressions of middle America. He represents a working class that is threatened by loss of work. He is a hard hat representation of a working and blue-collar working class.

Both emphasise their anxieties by immediate threats. The enemy, says Trump, needs to be extradited, interned and exorcised without any of the human rights claptrap that Clinton or the New York Times may want. Trump is outrageous, provocative, a salesman of the repressions of an America that is not quite global. Clinton is cosmopolitan, hypocritical. Trump sounds like a combination of a bully, a Sunday sermon and an obscene joke. Clinton sounds like a prevaricating editorial, a representative of all the institutions that create the credibility gap in America – from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.

Clinton sounds like the United Nations secretary general, a post she could have filled with greater elan. Trump sounds like something that preceded the Monroe Doctrine – which warned European nations against interference in US interests – isolationist, a salesman pretending to be Old Testament, calling for God to strike with thunder and lightning anyone who seeks to outsource America.

Symbolic battle

The electoral battle was not so much an ideological war but a semiotic battle where Trump was a believable version of himself. Trump could only be Trump while Clinton pretended to be too many people caught in a ganglion of too many issues. Clinton sounded confused trying to please too many people. Trump echoed a simple catechism. Clinton sounded like a multi-cultural handbook in a congregation of hard hats wanting immigration to end.

Both were readings of the global world. Clinton read America like the former British Prime Minister David Cameron read the European Union. Trump had the simplicity of Brexit. Any outsider, in fact all outsiders, was the enemy regardless of whether they were Chinese, Arab or Mexican. Globalisation to Trump was anti-American. But for Clinton, globalisation was the next step in the American dream. She sounded like an area studies handbook, Trump was a simplified America. Clinton looked like something from a salon, Trump from a bar room brawl.

Clinton was politically correct, liberal, democratic and cosmopolitan. Trump was a bull in a China shop in a world tired of China shops, tired of delicacy when it demanded immediacy. Oddly, Trump came out as more honest than Clinton. In a Bible thumping heartland, an Old Testament prophet in the garb of a salesman is more effective than a feminist liberal. For Trump, boasting about grabbing beautiful women “by the pussy” was mere locker room talk. Clinton was coy but people felt that Trump in his Playboy candidness was more real than the Clintons. An advocate of porn is preferable to a hypocrite with backroom indulgences. Trump’s promises sounded real, simple, like a medicinal advertisement. Clinton reeked of policy documents that have little credibility. In fact, Trump as the inexperienced outsider contained more of Horatio Alger’s America than Clinton who reeked of the establishment. It showed that a movement that speaks the language of experts and policy cannot match the language of folklore.

Trump may not have articulated new dreams but at least he played out old repressions. Clinton sounded like a collection of old dreams and promises that were difficult to redeem. It was like Ivy League battling working class America as the true locus of the American dream. A John Kennedy could enact Camelot. Clinton’s Camelot had too many vacancies. It failed as a poetic act. A bad epic sometimes is no match for a Falstaffian limerick. It is not the content of the message alone but the messenger. Trump is the Barnum of the communication world. Clinton as political soprano lost her voice.

The American election is like a card game that reminds you that the joker often comes up trumps. Clinton becomes a period piece who can be confined to history as Trump steps out to create it. This was a communication and semiotic war where idols were vandalised and iconoclasts valorised. In a strange iconic way, Trump might be more surprised by his victory than Clinton by her defeat. But such is the world we call electoral politics.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The ordeal of choosing the right data pack for your connectivity needs

"Your data has been activated." <10 seconds later> "You have crossed your data limit."

The internet is an amazing space where you can watch a donkey playing football while simultaneously looking up whether the mole on your elbow is a symptom of a terminal diseases. It’s as busy as it’s big with at least 2.96 billion pages in the indexed web and over 40,000 Google search queries processed every second. If you have access to this vast expanse of information through your mobile, then you’re probably on something known as a data plan.

However, data plans or data packs are a lot like prescription pills. You need to go through a barrage of perplexing words to understand what they really do. Not to mention the call from the telecom company rattling on at 400 words per minute about a life-changing data pack which is as undecipherable as reading a doctor’s handwriting on the prescription. On top of it all, most data packs expect you to solve complex algorithms on permutations to figure out which one is the right one.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

Even the most sophisticated and evolved beings of the digital era would agree that choosing a data pack is a lot like getting stuck on a seesaw, struggling to find the right balance between getting the most out of your data and not paying for more than you need. Running out of data is frustrating, but losing the data that you paid for but couldn’t use during a busy month is outright infuriating. Shouldn’t your unused data be rolled over to the next month?

You peruse the advice available online on how to go about choosing the right data pack, most of which talks about understanding your own data usage. Armed with wisdom, you escape to your mind palace, Sherlock style, and review your access to Wifi zones, the size of the websites you regularly visit, the number of emails you send and receive, even the number of cat videos you watch. You somehow manage to figure out your daily usage which you multiply by 30 and there it is. All you need to do now is find the appropriate data pack.

Promptly ignoring the above calculations, you fall for unlimited data plans with an “all you can eat” buffet style data offering. You immediately text a code to the telecom company to activate this portal to unlimited video calls, selfies, instastories, snapchats – sky is the limit. You tell all your friends and colleagues about the genius new plan you have and how you’ve been watching funny sloth videos on YouTube all day, well, because you CAN!

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

Alas, after a day of reign, you realise that your phone has run out of data. Anyone who has suffered the terms and conditions of unlimited data packs knows the importance of reading the fine print before committing yourself to one. Some plans place limits on video quality to 480p on mobile phones, some limit the speed after reaching a mark mentioned in the fine print. Is it too much to ask for a plan that lets us binge on our favourite shows on Amazon Prime, unconditionally?

You find yourself stuck in an endless loop of estimating your data usage, figuring out how you crossed your data limit and arguing with customer care about your sky-high phone bill. Exasperated, you somehow muster up the strength to do it all over again and decide to browse for more data packs. Regrettably, the website wont load on your mobile because of expired data.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

Getting the right data plan shouldn’t be this complicated a decision. Instead of getting confused by the numerous offers, focus on your usage and guide yourself out of the maze by having a clear idea of what you want. And if all you want is to enjoy unlimited calls with friends and uninterrupted Snapchat, then you know exactly what to look for in a plan.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

The Airtel Postpaid at Rs. 499 comes closest to a plan that is up front with its offerings, making it easy to choose exactly what you need. One of the best-selling Airtel Postpaid plans, the Rs. 499 pack offers 40 GB 3G/4G data that you can carry forward to the next bill cycle if unused. The pack also offers a one year subscription to Amazon Prime on the Airtel TV app.

So, next time, don’t let your frustration get the better of you. Click here to find a plan that’s right for you.

Source: giphy.com
Source: giphy.com

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel and not by the Scroll editorial team.