The Tragic Shakespearean Irony of Donald Trump

Matt Higginson
3 min readOct 9, 2016

Old Bill Shakespeare could have written this one himself, and we’d unanimously laud it as the zenith of his genius and the pinnacle of all his tragedies.

Consider one Donald J. Trump. The most hollow-minded, self-deluded, nausea-inducing narcissist to ever receive a major party’s nomination for president. So ill-equipped for the job, he’s compelled scores of prudent conservatives to withhold their support in disgust — including the GOP’s flag bearer from just four years prior. So polarizing, bigoted, and vilely misogynistic, even the most ardent Republican voices can not stomach voting for Trump — including a publication so stalwartly conservative, it hasn’t endorsed a Democrat for president once in it’s 126-year history. Until this year.

Yet, Donald Trump didn’t materialize in a vacuum. His storyline began decades earlier. Through ceaseless fear mongering, deceit, and bombastic blowhard drivel from the conservative-political-pornography-industrial-complex, this monster was groomed and harvested. A monster conservatives never really wanted, but the monster they deserve. Like two star-crossed lovers hurling towards each other through space towards inevitable destruction.

Donald Trump is the GOP’s self-inflicted wound so grotesque that even Hamlet is squeamish and Macbeth flinches in horror.

Yet the irony goes much deeper. As a direct result of their decades-long efforts to destroy Hillary Clinton, Republicans spawned the one and only candidate who never stood a chance of defeating her.

Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the right’s ostensible archetype of evil and the primary recipient of their attacks for more than 34 years. For three decades conservatives have obsessively demonized her with such effectiveness — and relentlessness — that the Republican chorus in this tragic play began to misconstrue vice for virtue. Bewildered throughout acts one, two, and three by mindless partisan vitriol, they latched on to their fatally flawed anti-hero, one equally vitriolic and astonishingly more mindless.

Yet, for some perverse reason, many of the secondary characters caught up in this charade continue to earn the audience’s sympathies. These “victims of circumstance” are given a pass on their idolatry of this orange god. They could look past the greed, overt racism, sexism, and religious bigotry. And the audience looked passed their tacit endorsements of all of it. After all, the House divided can not stand.

Threaten and disparage those minority Montagues, those foreigners, with hateful bile and the chorus cries, “Meh.” But attack one of their own fair Capulet “wives and daughters,” and they devolve into fraudulent hysteria. Stranger still, some of these minor characters continue to fall on their sword for the monster, cravenly and madly chasing their own vanity and power.

It remains to be seen whether or not, as with many great Shakespearean journeys, the audience will become aware of the great irony as we near the final scene. The conservative chorus, now left with a king so undeniably abhorrent, morally bankrupt, and jaw-droppingly ignorant, he has become the living embodiment of everything they purport to loathe.

In that final stanza, will they recognize that they themselves helped enable the real protagonist in this play as she vanquishes the repugnant villain? Will they see that they’ve became everything they said she was — the epitome of every corrosive characteristic they attempted to soil her with?

After 30 years attempting to annihilate Hillary Clinton, the GOP only empowered her to save them from themselves.