Watching the TV’s show Empire the other night, it suddenly hit me that the program was a black hip hop version of of the Trump regime. Empire is one of those shows that is so complex and with so many characters doing so many bad things that it is easy to lose your place. As I was struggling to orient myself after having not watched it for some weeks, I realized that my mental efforts were almost precisely the same as those I experienced trying to keep track of everything the Trump regime was doing wrong.
The music empire and its main participants have no goals other than power and money. There is no ideology nor faith. The corporation is run by Lucious Lyon, a man of a seedy past and an uninhibited willingness to use his strength and dubious skills to continue his tradition into the future. He has three sons who wish to follow in his path, with or without his approval, and then you have numerous other characters who see the empire at least in part as their own territory.
What is notable is the near total absence of decency, morality or kindness. Everyone in the Empire’s environment is on their own, working the system for what they can get, and highly liberated from such common feelings as loyalty, honesty, or forthrightness.
To follow this show has been difficult. To have so many people telling lies, misleading others, or physically threatening them is hard to track.
But then I realized that this is precisely how I feel about following the Trump regime. How, for example, does one retain a clear view of various members of its mob dealing with the Russians? Are the children of Lucious Trump his victims or are they also endangering him? Why is there no one to like or trust? Who are the least evil and who are the most? Are there any issues that will take precedence over personal greed?
This sort of thing might be described as anarchy, but that suggests a certain random chaos when what is happening here is the constant conflict of those to whom policy or procedure is determinedly incidental to their own power. It is not random so much as multitudinous. Like the players in Empire everyone wants to be on top. And soon.
Will the police bring down Lucious and his mad world? Will the FBI or the NY Attorney General bring down Trump and his?
Who knows? But as we watch the Trump disaster, it may help to also follow Lucious and his empire. There are times when fiction can be clearer than reality.