Rand Paul, in an attempt to connect with younger, hipper voters, has decided to mockingly compare Donald Trump to a character from a 62-year-old book. The character he chose was Gollum, and the reason he gave was this:
One candidate on this national stage wants you to give him power. He tells you he is rich, so he must be smart.
If you give him power he claims he will fix America, but there is another tradition in America. A tradition that believes that power corrupts, and that our goal should be not to gain power but to contain power or limit Presidential power…
This race should not be about who can grasp the ring. Electing Gollum should not be our objective. This race should be about which candidate will best protect you from an overbearing government.
I am the only one on this national stage who really doesn’t want power or dominion over you.
So, a few quick things. I hate Donald Trump as much as anyone else, but Gollum is not a great comparison. First off, Gollum didn’t want power or dominion over anyone, he just wanted the Ring. Also, Gollum hates himself. This alone disqualifies him from being compared to Trump. It would be more accurate, in this analogy, to compare Trump to Sauron, but even that feels forced. Sauron is, if nothing else, a competent dictator, and is also short on words. It would be nice if Donald Trump was more like Sauron.
I’m not knocking Rand Paul for not knowing more about Lord of the Rings, as I imagine the only book he reads is Atlas Shrugged, and even the best candidates take ham-fisted stabs at being cool from time-to-time, so I’d like to offer him some other fictional characters that might be better likened to Donald Trump:
Gilderoy Lockhart, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
About a month ago, Twitter blew up after Trump’s Islamophobic nonsense and started comparing him to Voldemort. J.K. Rowling was not pleased.
The only way to stop Donald Trump is to destroy his Horcruxes. The wig is definitely one. If you need me I’ll be finding the other six.
— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) December 7, 2015
How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad. https://t.co/hFO0XmOpPH
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 8, 2015
Rowling is right: that is not the correct comparison. First of all, Voldemort was a power-hungry psychopath, while Trump is merely a bloviating narcissist. In this sense, he is much closer to the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in the second Harry Potter book, Gilderoy Lockhart. Lockhart is an incompetent and a buffoon who spends most of his time mugging for cameras and talking about how important he is. This is the most Trumpian trait any character shows in the seven books.
And if we must insist on our Harry Potter comparison being a Death Eater, I would say that Vincent Crabbe, the meatheaded crony who turns maniacally evil in the seventh book, is a better comparison than Voldemort, simply because Voldemort is always portrayed as smart.
Napoleon, War and Peace
I know Napoleon is not a fictional character, but in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, he is fictionalized and portrayed not as a genius, but rather as an egomaniac who is simply riding the wave of history. France, Tolstoy suggests, was bubbling over with revolution anyway, and it didn’t matter which Great Man took the helm.
Tom Buchanan, The Great Gatsby
Misogynist? Check. Racist? Check. Rich and entitled? Check. Callously indifferent to the destruction he leaves in his wake? Check. Just the worst? Check.
Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Beeblebrox, for those who haven’t read HHG2G, is a self-centered, charismatic tabloid celebrity who somehow manages to be elected Galactic President. He then uses his prestige and power to careen around the galaxy, make a mess, and ruin people’s lives. Also, he has terrible hair.
Satan, The Bible (and spin-offs like Paradise Lost)
Bear with me. I’m not just making half-baked comparisons between Trump and the Devil. In Paradise Lost, Satan — whose fatal flaw is his pride — rejects God, leads a revolution (“Make heaven great again!”), loses, and then spends the rest of his life eating sour grapes and trying to turn God’s favorite creations against him. He especially likes to target women and people wandering through deserts.
Photo: Gage Skidmore