“From this day forward, everything that was wide open is going to be closed.”
Who said this last week, Donald Trump or the Young Pope?
It was in fact Jude Law as the Young Pope, giving his long-awaited speech to the cardinals in episode five of the HBO series, which aired last night. But one could be forgiven for mistaking it for an excerpt from Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees from entering the country, or from his long-dreaded inauguration speech, when he in fact proclaimed: “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America first.” And then he moved to close our borders.
The Young Pope, a (relatively) young reactionary, and Donald Trump, an old (any way you look at it) authoritarian, are in many ways cut from the same cloth. Even their debuts followed similar weather patterns: When the Pope first appeared in front of the gathered masses in St. Peter’s Square, he envisioned the dark clouds would part and heaven would shine down. In reality, when they opened up only rain poured through. Trump, as we know, suffers from a similar case of alternative forecasts.
There are less nefarious parallels. For instance, their love of junk food: a steady supply of Diet Cherry Coke for the Young Pope, Lay’s chips in the White House pantry for Trump. They are homebodies: the Pope content behind the walls of the Vatican, Trump still uneasy away from his beloved Trump Tower, which he flew to hundreds of times during the campaign to sleep between, we imagine, his gold sheets.
The Young Pope also offers insight into Trump’s psyche. As a Young Pope-in-the-making, the child Lenny Belardo was abandoned at an orphanage by his parents, which is at the very root of his insecurity and the fuel for his autocratic rule. Trump, who has been infantilized by his own staff, also suffers from being unwanted, only he was scorned not by his family (quite the contrary) but by the New York establishment. As The Atlantic said, he is the Outer-Borough President.
But the overlap that should seize our attention is their shared doctrine. “We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon,” Trump told his supporters in the National Mall. The Young Pope agrees: “We’ve been reaching out to others for years,” he declared to the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. “Now it’s time to stop.”
What are we to do when fiction becomes too real?
Meet the Women Who Made History as the Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington: