Anti-Establishment Backlash Makes 2015 the Year of the Clown

Anti-Establishment Backlash Makes 2015 the Year of the Clown
Republican presidential candidates appear during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Simi Valley, Calif., Sept. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Chris Carlson).

When this year’s slate of GOP presidential candidates took the stage for a televised debate a couple of months ago, with the flamboyant Donald Trump capturing most of the attention, a number of writers started referring to the group as the Republican “clown car.” The term was obviously meant to be a humorous putdown, dismissing the seriousness and political viability of the large and histrionic collection of would-be presidents.

More recently, as the possibility that Trump could emerge victorious started becoming less inconceivable to the establishment, the term fell into disuse. And yet, there is a grain of truth in the mostly abandoned metaphor. Clowns, it turns out, may help explain what is happening in a number of democracies around the world. This could, in fact, be the Year of the Clown.

The least metaphorical of examples is unfolding in Guatemala, where a professional clown just won the first round of the presidential election during a time of unprecedented turmoil.

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