Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a crossroads in our history. No longer are the days of white, heterosexual, political establishment Bob Johnson running against white, heterosexual, political establishment John Bobson. No, those days are past. In fewer than two weeks we will elect a new president, and the American public has never been so upset. In the past few months, I have heard numerous people express their contempt over Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in different ways, including but not limited to:
“Clinton’s not even a real progressive!”
“Trump’s not even a real conservative!”
“TURN THE TV OFF!! MY EYES, O SWEET MERCY, MY EYES!!”
“Trump supporters are genocidal maniacs who deserve to die!”
“Anyone who supports Hillary Clinton should be sterilized and given a rusty spoon lobotomy by Barbara Bush!”
“Donald Trump dug up Ronald Reagan and ate his fingers in 2012. That is what made him strong!”
“Did you know Hillary Clinton has 100 murder-gazebos in Benghazi?!”
“Donald Trump has a tramp stamp of Hitler kissing Donald Trump!”
“LIBERALS!?! AHHHHHHHH!!! NOT THE LIBERALS!! THEY’RE IN MY EYES AHHH!!”
“Did you know that FBI proved that 80% of Clinton’s emails were directly addressed to Satan?”
“Y’know, guys, Gary Johns-”
The flame war never ends. Never has this country been so divided, so conflicted, and so seriously pissed off. One of the primary reasons I’ve heard people say that they have no interest in politics is because of how nasty it makes people. And they have a point. My friends and I are very close, but when a presidential election approaches, soon enough we’re tricking each other into eating our own pets. Politics is nasty business. But you know, there’s another land that we all know and love that’s at war with itself. A proud nation split into two parties with no middle ground. An ancient society whose fate also rests on your soldiers. That land is Skyrim.
That’s right. Skyrim. That beautiful, god-tier game we all know and love. Skyrim, the universally revered RPG that brings all of us gamers together. But what does this have to do with politics, you ask? Well, a real life incarnation of Ulfric Stormcloak, Jarl of Windhelm, named Donald Trump is running for president.
It has come to my attention that some people haven’t played Skyrim, so I’ve provided a brief conceptual recap. Skyrim is the fifth installment of a RPG video game franchise known as the Elder Scrolls, set against the backdrop of a high medieval fantasy world, complete with orcs, trolls, and racist elves. But don’t worry. I know what you’re really thinking: “Jesse, what about the details surrounding the history, lore, political climate, or structure and distribution of temporal power in this fictional land?” Don’t worry, my friends! I’m never gonna let you down.
Skyrim is a collection of holds (or provinces) each led by a Jarl–pronounced YARL for you idiots who never paid attention in Norwegian class. These Jarls are typically subservient to the Jarl of Solitude, the High King of Skyrim. The nation of Skyrim itself is actually subservient to the Empire of Cyrodiil, an empire that spans across the continent of Tamriel. After the Great War, the invading Aldmeri Dominion, led by the Thalmor (i.e. racist elves), presented the White-Gold Concordat, a peace treaty that demanded a ban on the worship of Talos, an ancient Nordic hero whom the Nords believed was elevated to divinity in the afterlife for his badassery. After careful consideration, the Empire decided that they’d rather not be murdered and conceded, banning the worship of Talos.
In order to combat this impingement of Imperial authority, Ulfric Stormcloak, the Jarl of Windhelm, rebels against the Empire and leads a massive campaign to combat a corrupt, overreaching government that robs Nords of their religious freedom and take over Skyrim in order to make it more like it was in the good ol’ days. Perhaps one could say Ulfric Stormcloak simply wanted to make Skyrim… GREAT AGAIN?!
It’s also come to my attention that some people haven’t heard of Donald Trump, so here’s a brief recap: Donald Trump is a celebrity businessman who rose to prominence in the 2016 Republican Primary where, against all odds, he defeated 16 contenders by defying the Republican establishment and riling up the Republican base against his opponent Hillary Clinton. And the GOP. And Barack Obama. And the media. And a lot of things. He claims that he will build a wall between the United States and Mexico, prevent jobs from leaving the United States, and make America great again in general. He also once cameoed in Home Alone 2.
So this article will provide a comparison between these two very interesting characters and how it relates to this year’s presidential election. Of the United States of America, by the way. Sorry if you were reading this as a confused foreigner. It’s about America, not you. So if you’re a foreigner, you should probably just hit the road at this point.
That means you, Winston Londonberry.
The Election as Explained by Stormcloaks
Let us revisit Skyrim for a moment. That country, like ours, is torn in two: on one side are the Stormcloaks, folks who support Ulfric’s cause, and on the other are the Imperials, those who place their allegiance in the Empire and hope to quell the rebellion. This sort of construction is easily compared with our sticky situation. Passionate Trump supporters view themselves as rebels, and a large pool of Clinton supporters seem to be motivated by a hatred of Trump more than a love of Clinton. Thus, from this point forward, I will refer to Trump supporters as Stormcloaks and Clinton supporters as Imperials. So let’s take a look at a Stormcloak’s perspective on why Donald Trump is Ulfic Stormcloak.
Why Stormcloaks first? Here me out. My primary goal in writing this is to give both Stormcloaks and Imperials a little bit of empathy for the other side, and let’s face it. Most young people are Imperials. That’s just a fact. Even if they aren’t necessarily for the Imperials, many join them out of spite for Stormcloaks. The Internet can’t be a pleasant place for Stormcloaks. Everywhere they turn, they are attacked in their colleges, high schools, and personal dark allies, reduced to 9Gag memes and embarrassingly racist quotes from their Aunt Karen on Facebook. So as I suspect many Imperials will be reading, it is important to know that these people are not out of their mind. Most of these people never daydreamed of “target practice” on the Mexican border. (Most of) these people were not burning crosses in white hoods in 2015. The majority of these people don’t even like Trump. They just hate Clinton a lot more.
Now, in the same vein, not everyone likes Ulfric Stormcloak. A lot of people hate his guts, but I bet there are some real life Imperials reading this who once traversed Skyrim in the leggings of a Stormcloak before. Some may be viscerally insulted by the comparison between Donald Trump and Ulfric Stormcloak because they think it ruins Ulfric’s image. Well, both of these people, like them or not, are impressive figures, and for very similar reasons. How, you ask? Let’s take a look!
Both express a completely founded disdain for the government.
Both the Imperial and United States governments suggest a severe disconnect with their people.
The evil Empire who actually rules Skyrim from a distance took away their religious freedom and the Stormcloaks were upset. And why shouldn’t they be? In any case, the Empire took this stance because it was distant from its subjects and didn’t think of how much it would affect the poor natives. So a man named Ulfric Stormcloak killed the High King of Skyrim for his poor leadership and led the Stormcloaks in the liberation from the tyranny of the Empire. Oh, not to mention the Empire has politically sided with a group whose wardrobe resembles that of the Nazis, Death Eaters, and Sauron:
Like the Stormcloaks, Donald Trump supporters also feel that they have a distant, incompetent, and uncaring government. Taxes have been increased, the national debt is over $20 trillion dollars ($20,000,000,000,000. I just wanted to you to see all the zeros), manufacturing jobs are slowly but surely moving to other countries, lobbyists control what laws get passed, and an absence of term limits keeps corrupt politicians in Washington for decades on end. The government seems to have completely forgotten about the working class and, like Ulfric Stormcloak, Donald Trump promises that he’ll shake things up and keep Washington in check. And that’s because…
Both are independent.
While the other Jarls have vested interests in the Imperial affairs of Cyrodiil, Ulfric Stormcloak is the only one who is truly independent. Pardon my French, but il ne donne pas une merde. Meaning, he doesn’t give a poop. He doesn’t care about the pleasantries of diplomacy. He’s just going to war and doesn’t care who joins him because he believes his people are strong enough to crush their enemies. And he should! Literally half of Skyrim’s Nords have, at one point or another, had an arrow lodged in their knee. Their KNEE! Like, right through the meniscus! I’d say a populous like that, limping or not, could probably crush whatever they felt like.
Arrows and compromised patellas aside, American Stormcloaks view Trump in the same light. He’s an outsider candidate, not beholden to party, campaign financiers, or even common decency. He’s an unquestionably independent and unapologetic candidate and that appeals to people who have grown to hate the establishment so much. Speaking of which…
Both conquered a weak establishment.
Nords value honor, bravery, and strength above all else. Ulfric Stormcloak doubted that King Torygg was worthy of the crown because he betrayed his own people. Therefore, he was personally willing to challenge a weak king to a duel and afterward shouted him to pieces. But Donald Trump also challenged what he deemed to be an incompetent establishment and shouted it to pieces. Let us not forget that Trump beat 16 (1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1, just so you could see all the 1’s) other candidates. He beat eight governors, six senators, a CEO, and a cute little brain surgeon. And he did it by “roughin’ ‘em up.” He tapped into a latent hatred for its own party within the Republican base and convinced everyone to push the Big Red Button of Trump because Washington told them not to. In other words, Donald Trump won solely with the power of his Thu’um.
Both appeal to nationalism.
Ulfric Stormcloak wants to make Skyrim great again. It was once a land of proud people and culture, but now the Thalmor have reduced it to a pitiful shade of the glorious nation it once was. It is ravaged by war and division, controlled by a distant government who has no respect for Nordic honor, and ruled by a weak ruler.
Ditto with Trump, except he promises to make America great again. Now I will certainly say that America was never perfect, but we were once better in many regards. We used to be one of the more educated countries, the most wealthy country, and one of the most “moral” countries in our approach to warfare. Rag on American exceptionalism all you like, but see if you can literally save the world from the Nazis and not let it go to your head? Trump is appealing to this sense of American greatness that people feel has been lost in the 21st Century: we’re in an embarrassing amount of debt, we have the highest number of incarcerated citizens per capita, we have the highest defense spending, we-AAAAAHHH!
Sorry, everybody. I just looked into a mirror next to my desk and saw the face of Jeff Daniels from that one clip on Facebook. NO! No, Jeff Daniels! Stop it! Go back to my my friend Alexa’s Facebook page right next to a caption that says, “The truth HURTS!” where you belong!
ANYWAY, long story short, our jobs are going to China, our infrastructure is falling apart, and dammit if half of my Pop-Tarts box ain’t in Spanish! Many Stormcloaks just long for a “simpler” time. The America in which the baby-boomers grew up was prosperous, industrious, scientific, and upheld decent family values. Well, for most people. America did not include everyone. Which, reminds me…
Both look out for the majority.
Ulfric Stormcloak promises to look out for the Nords, the numerical majority in Skyrim, without much concern for how the other folks fair. Donald Trump promises to look out for the white conservative (more on the specifics in regards to race later on).
When I say that someone looks out for the majority, I would expect a very negative reaction. “Might is right” is typically an unpopular saying these days, because it was on the motivational posters of every evil dictator we can think of. Most people wouldn’t admit that they believe this, but this dogma wormed its way deep into our subconscious mind thousands of years ago and it’s not leaving anytime soon. However, that depends on your ethics. If you believe that people should be able to find their own truth and believe what they feel is right, you might invite this kind of thinking because, in a utilitarian sense, looking out for the majority is perfectly reasonable. One of the principle definitions of “doing good” is striving for the greatest amount of happiness for the largest amount of people. Thus, if you stigmatize 10% of the population for the happiness and comfort of the other 90%, in the long run, you’re doing a good thing. Granted, I’m not expecting 14-year-old girls to post this paragraph in cursive over an inspirational picture of a sun setting over a river coming out of a snow mountain by the beach.
I’m not saying that most Stormcloaks even agree with this philosophy. Most of them probably don’t, but some do, and all I’m saying that, whether or not it seems ethically problematic doesn’t change the fact that in a pluralist mindset, it’s not illogical. They feel that the culture they are a part of constitutes the “norm” because it does. The world often revolves around what white people think of the world. However, as cultures become more diverse in race, language, gender, and religion, this idea of what is “normal” is changing.
So know that Stormcloaks are not out of their minds. They may disagree with you, curious Imperial, but they’re not out of their mind. They’re just a little scared.