aybe in the beginning you could avoid it. You
weren’t interested in fantasy stories, so you
didn’t start watching Game of Thrones in the
first season or two. Then it became all that anyone around
you was talking about. You didn’t know what it meant when
people said that “winter is coming,” so you ponied up for an
HBO NOW subscription and binged.
Many Americans may have approached the recent
presidential election in the same way. When there were
a dozen or more candidates at the Republican debates
and Hillary Clinton seemed a lock to win the Democratic
nomination, it was difficult to get invested.
Then everything went off script. Donald Trump, that
brash outsider who didn’t have a chance at the nomination,
dominated the GOP race. Hillary Clinton, who seemed
anointed for the nomination from day one, had to fend off a
surge from her own outside challenger in Bernie Sanders.
All of a sudden, it was time to pay attention. But what,
exactly, were we watching all this time?
One could liken it to Game of Thrones—a fantasy
that includes a bloodbath every other scene. But the story
changed all the time, and it was hard to define. To different
viewers, the story played out in different ways.