John Oliver on Donald Trump and the absolute state of American politics is not reassuring

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Monday 25 July 2016 14:20
news
Picture: John Moore/Getty

Satirist, comic, and preacher to the converted John Oliver has once again summed up the danger of Donald Trump on his HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Oliver and his team can be given much credit for taking his jokes about Trump beyond the bland and facile turf of 'isn't that man buffoonish' and into better targeted and more acerbic terrain.

On Sunday, in his overview of the Republican National Convention, Oliver took issue with the complete rejection of facts and the embrace of 'feeling' in their stead.

For Oliver this was summed up by the comments of Antonio Sabato Jr., a reality star and one of the speakers at the convention.

Picture: Shark Season/YouTube

In an interview conducted at the convention hall, Sabato Jr. said this regarding president Obama's religion:

First of all, I don’t believe that the guy is a Christian. I don’t believe that he follows the God that I love, and the Jesus I love.

When questioned by his host, Sabato Jr. explained where this belief originated.

That’s what I believe, yeah. And you know what? I have the right to believe that, and you have the right to go against that.

The absence of evidence wasn't important to Sabato Jr. The fact he 'felt' that president Obama was not Christian was enough, and was a valid and equal counter to any facts offered by journalists.

Oliver used this observation as a totem for the entire convention, and as a driver of the Trump campaign. Oliver played a roster of RNC delegates using 'feelings' to describe events in America, often in contravention of facts:

The vast majority of Americans today do not feel safe.

There's a whole lot of Americans out there today who feel like Democrat politicians have taken them for granted.

The whole economy feels stuck.

At this last comment from current speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan, Oliver reacted with incredulity.

What do you MEAN 'It feels stuck?' The economy is about numbers, feelings are supposed to be irrelevant.

After showing some scary moments from Trump's speech which Oliver characterised as sounding like Trump was about to 'announce the first Hunger Games', the host then showed footage of the former speaker of the U.S House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, also disregarding logic in favour of emotion.

Picture: Shark Season/YouTube

In an interview regarding crime, Gingrich asserted that most Americans feel it is increasing. When a reporter countered this with statistics that show violent crime has been decreasing over the last twenty years, Gingrich dismissed the idea.

The average American, I will bet you, this morning, does not think crime is down, does not think they are safer...

The reporter says:

But it is. It is down.

Picture: Shark Season/YouTube

To which Gingrich replies:

No. That's your view.

Because that's how binary up or down interpretations work, clearly. As the two speak over one another, Gingrich says his contrary information is also true at the same time as his questioner.

But what I said is also true.

Picture: Shark Season/YouTube

Oliver's dark conclusion from all this is that when feelings can be used to take the place of place of facts in discussion, candidates can use this to create facts, and by doing so create their own reality.

Oliver's take echoes the description of the totalitarian state in George Orwell's 1984.

Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.

For the full segment on the RNC and US politics in general see the video:

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