No one from any spectrum of politics is safe from the best political satire I’ve encountered in ages. I have followed politics religiously since I participated in a grade school debate over Bush vs Dukakis in 1988. I supported Dukakis because of the Iran-Contra scandal…but I’d be lying if I claimed that I really understood anything about it at such a tender young age.
In the intervening years, watching the horrorshow of modern American politics was a big inspiration in founding Escape From Ignorance since all too often ignorance is the goal for politicians. They want voters to be ignorant of any facts except for the ones that they offer in their stump speeches. The few politicians who actually try to offer objective facts often get drown out by louder, flashier candidates regardless of truthfulness.
No Presidential candidate in American history has been more reckless and destructive with the truth than Donald Trump, but do not mistake this book for a cheap attack on Trump. Quite the contrary, this book uses Trump as leverage to lampoon the entire American political apparatus. Beloved figures on both sides of the aisle are skewered mercilessly, most of all the voters themselves. I would be shocked if there was not at least one joke in here to offend every political sensibility under the sun.
Yet if you have read any of Sisco’s other works, especially his transcendent horror anthology, In Nightmares We’re Alone, you know that he has a special gift for complex characters and brilliant dialog. You might almost expect those gifts to be blunted in a satirical work that parodies real celebrities, but Sisco will prove you wrong. No one named in this book, especially protagonist Michael Moore and villain Donald Trump, would view their depictions as favorable to their real-life counterparts…but Sisco manages to create alternate versions of them that still somehow resonate as characters with compelling arcs.
It would be a disservice to describe the plot in too much detail, but it begins with a foul alien creature from a swamp attaching itself to the head of Donald Trump, the world’s more selfless and generous millionaire. The evil hairpiece transforms him into the egomaniacal con-man we know and fear today.
Sisco presents us with a chilling alternate reality that is at once farcical and all-too-familiar. Be it symbolizing the Military Industrial Complex as a magical Scepter of Ultimate Destruction or reducing the Presidential Election to single round of Fuck Marry Kill, the humor serves as a dark mirror of the reality we live in.
Yet don’t worry, the horror of it all won’t sink in till afterwards. While you’re reading you’ll be laughing too hard to notice. Ayn Rand lovers and haters alike should get a kick out of Glenn Beck depicted as a wayward John Galt figure. Conspiracy buffs will thrill to secret underground bunkers, ancient lizard people, and androids from the future. All Americans should be able to find humor in a Presidential primary run like an episode of America’s Next Top Model co-hosted by Bill O’Reilly and Bill Maher.
When the Republican nominating contest ends in a climactic rap-battle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, anyone nearby when you’re reading will demand to know what is so funny. Chapter 12 features a monologue from a Newscaster that may well be the most damning and insightful critique of American politics that I’ve ever read. I’d reprint it here in full if I could, but its power would be diluted out of context. It makes the point that our politicians behave very much like spoiled children arguing over triviality in the back of the family sedan, far removed from the country’s actual driver’s seat. If you accept the premise, you are forced to ask the very disturbing question of who exactly is at the wheel.
In politics it is all too easy to wear partisan blinders without even realizing it. You can get so caught up in the daily news grind and campaign minutiae that you fail to realize how far you’ve strayed from the truth. Satire may be our best weapon as a society to keep the whole process from going off the rails, and Donald Trump and the Hairpiece of Evil is exactly what our country needs right now. Come for the laughs. Stay for the biting satire. Leave with a new perspective on politics that reveals our most heated debates to be nothing more than children arguing over the route of a car no one is driving.