Spotlight Commentary: The Politician


The 2020 presidential election that took place on Nov. 7 resulted in the victory of Joe Biden, now the 46th president of the United States. After the key swing states overturned the election that had former President Trump in lead, President-elect Joe Biden secured his position with 20 last electoral votes from Pennsylvania and a total of 279 electoral votes, putting him above the 270 mark necessary to become president.

Joe Biden was born in 1942, long before the US had even established its political significance in the world. After graduating from law school, the Delaware Democratic Party urged him to run for the United States Senate, with his win making him a US senator at the young age of 29. However, amidst these dream-come-trues, Biden was forced to face a devastating family tragedy, in which his wife and children were involved in a tragic car accident, killing his wife and daughter. Biden even recalled that he “…began to understand how despair led people to just cash in; how suicide wasn’t just an option but a rational option”. Fast-forward to now, and Joe Biden has won the 2020 presidential election with running mate Kamala Harris by his side, the first female, first African-American, and first South Asian-American vice president-elect in history.

In 2019, the first season of the American show The Politician was released, starring Ben Platt, who plays the character of Payton Hobart, an impossibly ambitious teenager running for student-body president at his elite high school in California. The show overly exaggerates the entire election process, such as the campaigns, budget, speeches, debates, and political strategies. Payton runs against River, a character who is popular among his peers and is favored more than Payton by the student body. However, River’s character comes to a halt when he suddenly commits suicide at the end of the first episode. 

In the show, River admits to have already attempted suicide during a public debate against Payton, garnering support from the students through this emotional appeal. He says that he was “Not even depressed, just hopeless, afraid that I was always going to feel that way.” This is similar to what the current President-elect had stated after going through one of the biggest tragedies of his life. In addition, River chooses his running-mate as Skye Leighton, an African-American female classmate. The similarities between the 2020 election that happened recently and the fiction student-body election in the show are striking. I think that this says a lot about how important it is for the candidate to establish personal connections with their supporters by opening up to them, while wisely choosing a running-mate who can relate to various minority groups.

Many people are taking advantage of their time at home during the pandemic to endlessly scroll through Netflix shows, searching for one to get hooked on to. The show has garnered significant attention this election season, with the cast already gearing up for the filming of season 3. Because the characters portrayed in the show reflect former president Trump and current President-elect Biden in such an amusing manner, The Politician is a show that will surely quench the boredom of numerous people stuck at home.