The ‘Back to School’ Election

What to call the 2020 election?

Call it the “Back to School” election, after the film of the same name, in which Donald Trump is the Rodney Dangerfield of presidents; rather, Dangerfield is a Trump-like mogul named Thornton Melon, who runs his own company—and runs from his conniving, adulterous second wife—while running (and diving) to stop his son from dropping out of college.

Melon, a man whose name belies his lack of pedigree, puts the lie to the pretense of academia

He sees past the gates of the university, past the letters wrought in iron and written in Latin, past the words etched in marble and set in granite, past the statues of statesmen and the likeness of a man of the highest stature, past buildings that look like temples and towers that look like monuments. He sees his way into this state-run theme park, not by testing well but by scoring accurately; he writes the school a very big check.

He also checks the arts and sciences.

He mocks the dismal science, telling the dean of the business school about the hidden costs of construction—economists call these things externalities—such as greasing local politicians, kickbacks for carpenters, and money for the Teamsters and building inspectors.

He then reveals the fraudulence of college English, paying Kurt Vonnegut to write about his own novels. When his professor and love interest flunks him, saying Melon’s writer does not know the first thing about Vonnegut, the result is a stop payment order and an exchange of F-bombs with Vonnegut.

All the while the audience roots for Melon.

Like Melon, Trump knows the professoriate is a (mostly) humorless and self-impressed group of socialists and social democrats—with a handful of Democrats.

He plans to school them over the next year.

About Bill Asher

Bill Asher is a writer and retired executive. He lives with his family in Massachusetts.

Photo: Orion Pictures/Getty Images

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