I have been asked so much over the last two years which role I played with my blog site here, that was comparable to the popular Netflix series House of Cards. Well, I couldn’t give an answer because I don’t watch much entertainment television. Movies haven’t been very good for the last half of a decade and television series have not been a priority. I can’t relate to most of the plotlines. I’ve lived too much life to feel sympathy for most plot devices—so the stories are often boring to me. I do enjoy that type of entertainment from time to time, but it’s not very often. I watch CSPAN a lot along the various news channels—and typically don’t get very much out of dramatic television. But the question persisted, what role did I play in the real life House of Cards? Well, my wife and I recently made an audio/visual upgrade and we were looking for something to watch that could stretch the legs of the new system. House of Cards was on my mind—it was broadcast in the highest current video format which was very colorful, so we watched the first couple episodes and enjoyed it. I found it to be pretty realistic, but too simplified to what really goes on in politics. But still, the writers of the show did something that was very difficult to do; they captured roughly how life in the Beltway really is through the Kevin Spacey character. And my role with this site was shown in several characters—primarily the conspiracy theorist web writer who was living in a trailer park, and the reporter for The Washington Herald who broke stories on her blog site that her bosses wouldn’t touch otherwise. It was an enjoyable experience to watch because it let viewers into a world that I have learned to understand all too well. And its effect on the popular electorate is quite obvious as the election results from Saturday March, 5th 2016 poured in late at night and the establishment candidates had bombed badly. Marco Rubio and John Kasich had barely hit the registered vote while Trump and Cruz ran away with the night.
The “Washington Establishment” is defined in the Netflix show. It’s not just one person leading the nation from a back room, or a conglomeration of bankers running the world from the basement of some ancient pyramid dedicated to gods long-lost to our written record. It is the Kevin Spacey character—a congressman who is the majority WHIP of his party who is manipulating Washington at every level, from the guy who owns the ribs restaurant in the hard streets of a black neighborhood to the President of the United States. House of Cards captures the culture of the Washington establishment quite well, and accurately. Obviously when Mitt Romney was sent out to do several hit pieces on Donald Trump, the scheme didn’t work. Trump withheld the barrage, although Ted Cruz certainly benefited. During the unique Saturday election, nobody ran toward an establishment candidate and that clearly baffled the Frank Underwood types. Fox News was mystified and several guests on the other shows literally looked as if they had been shot out of a cannon. The establishment and all their tricks were dead, and it may very well be the television show House of Cards that finally killed it.
Netflix has around 34 million paid domestic subscribers and roughly 6% to 10% have watched at least one episode of House of Cards which is the flagship show offered by the streaming company that essentially destroyed Blockbuster Video. That means that at least 3 million people have at least watched some of the House of Cards episodes at some point in their subscription. However, that is likely a very conservative number. The numbers are likely higher if the IMDb ratings scores are considered as a statistical sampling. House of Cards has over 275,000 votes which are much higher than other popular shows on more traditional networks. Since Nielson Ratings don’t have a good way to account for ratings on streaming services over the Internet all this is so new and game changing that nobody but Netflix really knows how many people are watching their most popular show.
The Tea Party has been around now for about seven years and it has certainly made its imprint on politics. As I’ve said before, even in the video game industry, anti establishment plot lines which deal with the nuances of corruption at the highest levels are typical. Assassin’s Creed comes to my mind regarding this topic. The story is a fairly complex one that takes game players to pinnacle moments in history that is being simulated against a dystopian future which makes classic stories like Brave New World and Animal Farm look overly simplified as a result. The world is moving very fast now technologically, and people from my age and older are missing it, because it’s all coming in so fast that classic media is resisting the implication—so they are under reporting it. If you add all this up you essentially get what voters have decided for themselves–they want to destroy the Washington establishment one way or the other. The only real difference is whether they want to do it with someone like Donald Trump who represents someone who could out-fox anyone in the Beltway for several years, or a constitutional anchor in Ted Cruz who would say no to everything. That is what came out of the really pivotal vote on March 5th.
When Mitt Romney came out against Trump just days before the big vote, on a day when Trump was facing down his rivals on the Fox News debate where Megan Kelly for the first time since a major feud with Donald Trump had erupted, would ask the New York billionaire hard questions in front of tens of millions of people—few thought the results would be as they turned out. The bets were on Marco Rubio to get a spike, followed by John Kasich and that hasn’t happened at all. In fact, Rubio was literally trounced on Saturday. With all that was said, Trump not only survived, he won his two targeted states and split with Cruz the other two. In the delegate count, Trump is just shy of 400 going into the winner take all states which he’s poised to do well with while the other candidates are well behind. The establishment really doesn’t know what to do because Ted Cruz is the closest to Donald Trump at only less than 100 back. This was not part of the plan. If this was the House of Cards, Kevin Spacey would be having a meltdown because these rules of power and politics were not from the world he understands. Everything has suddenly turned on its head and nobody in the know understands where it came from.
That is precisely why I have written so much on this topic for years. People watch these shows, they play these video games and the do research on the Internet to find out for themselves what’s really going on. The traditional media is not a part of that revolution so all this is happening outside of their control. But it is clear to me that shows like House of Cards is waking people up to a truth they may not have otherwise considered. They might come to a site like mine for additional information to validate their suspicions, but House of Cards is bringing the average person a level of insider sophistication that they didn’t know existed before by just watching CNN or reading The Washington Times. And America has made a decision to pull out the foundation of that house and to let the whole thing just topple down. They don’t want a House of Cards running their nation-and they have voted to move in that direction. Even the popularity for Bernie Sanders explains the same on the side of Democrats and other left-winged people. People are tired of the tricks and the manipulation, and they want to bust up the system at its very core.
This all brings us back to my role in all this. Well, my job isn’t really covered in the Netflix series. There are some characters that are similar, but nobody is doing what I’m doing for the reasons that I do within that story. To get to that, it would require several layers of sophistication more, but that is not the fault of the writers of House of Cards. They have done a wonderful job putting all these pieces together within Washington culture. They certainly deserve their Emmy Award victories. They have brought to life in the Frank and Clair Underwood characters, who unfortunately really do exist in all the viciousness that House of Cards shows, a representation of a truth—and American voters are ready to turn away. So they watch House of Cards on Netflix, or they play Assassin’s Creed and want to know more. That’s when they find me and all this voluminous material. Then they check the sources I list and watch the videos, and they start changing their minds about things because they have source material from several different places starting with art, and then seeking out validation with journalism, then in opinion by measuring their reaction to others. My job is to be that middle offering. That element is missing from House of Cards because in that world—not many people are watching television except for the news. But it’s close enough to make the needed changes that we are witnessing—and that is a very good thing.
Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman
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