American politics? It’s just a big Game of Thrones

Joanna Taylor 1 May 2016

Like most Brits, I’d like to think that I have a lot in common with Barack Obama. Not only does he share my centrist politics, but he has proclaimed himself to be an enormous fan of Game of Thrones. The thought that I could discuss Jon Snow with Obama comforts me; being such an avid fan of the series, he saw last week’s shocking premiere before it was released to the public.

Why Obama loves Games of Thrones puzzles me, however. My own enjoyment stems from its fantasy and escapism, but the President of the United States must surely view it with the ominous sense that his life is mirroring that of Robert Baratheon, who is aware that his ‘death’ will spell the end of a term of political calm. In fact, the similarities are endless…

Bernie Sanders is Robb Stark in all but age and sex appeal. Outsiders from the North, Sanders and Stark remain neutral for years but are encouraged to intervene in growing political corruption and injustice: both even have grassroots support. Like Stark, Sanders has the establishment pitted against him and, whilst I’d hesitate to compare the brutal New England primaries to the far more blood-curdling Wedding, in both instances we had to accept the death of a pipe dream.

The Lannisters (whom we have to pretend to care about again come season four) must be the Democratic Party, with Hillary at the head. Hillary, like Cersei, is undoubtedly a strong woman pushing gender equality to the fore, but both are overshadowed by the role money plays in their lives and the pre-existing power of their families.

Over on the Republican side, Cruz is Stannis: a religious zealot with an eye for retribution who pushes on against hope, making gains in the North but ultimately failing to win the support he needs. Trump, of course, must be Joffrey. Whilst nobody’s accusing Hillary of mothering him, it must be noted that he was born into power with only a ‘small loan’ of seven kingdoms to get his career started. He has no experience, speaks his mind without caring whom it will offend and loves the death penalty. Then there’s John Kasich, largely irrelevant but refusing to go away: a textbook Balon Greyjoy.

At this point, if Trump claimed that he would serve Bill’s head to Hillary at the first debate, it would only be as shocking as his other speeches. Game of Thrones and American politics are both brilliantly complex and gripping to spectate, and perhaps Obama loves them both for this reason.