As any true Parks and Recreation fan will remember, Leslie Knope ran for city council office in season 4. At the time, this story direction was made to reflect the 2012 presidential election and touched on the difficulties of politics and city government. However, season 4 seems to have some rather bizarre similarities to this current 2016 election cycle. A short, blonde woman who many call over qualified for the job, a rich knucklehead who says absolute nonsense, and voters who have both surprised and frustrated everyone.
Both these woman have had long, ambitious careers in politics and both have been portrayed by the masterful Amy Poehler. Each of their respective campaigns have also been hindered by past sex scandals. Leslie had carried out a secret romance with Ben Wyatt, her superior, and we all know Hillary’s deal. Although Leslie’s exact political stances were never specified, she often lobbied for bigger government, cited Hillary Clinton as an inspiration (although she also cited Condoleezza Rice so it may just have to do with powerful women in government) and unabashedly carried a torch for Vice President Joe Biden. Leslie is intelligent, competent, and knows how government works inside and out. Due to her intelligence, she is often accused of being an intellectual who isn’t in touch with everyday people, a similar accusation made towards Clinton. In Leslie’s case, this accusation is baseless and she is deeply entrenched within her local community. Hillary understandably is somewhat more guarded seeing as she’s spent nearly her entire adult life in politics and has had every minute detail about her slandered or questioned.
Bobby Newport / Donald Trump
Bobby Newport (played by guest star Paul Rudd) is the young attractive son of the Newport family who owns Sweetums, the largest employer in all of Pawnee, Indiana. He has absolutely no experience in politics and he only has his job thanks to his wealthy father (Trump spoke of how he received $1 million from his father to start his own company). Sweetums, the source of Bobby’s wealth, also creates products that are misleading, unhealthy, and badly made much like Trump’s many failed ventures. Both of these men are detached from reality due to their wealth and both have advertised their apparent wealth as reasons to vote for them. Like Trump, Bobby is emotionally immature and behaves like a petulant teenager. Unlike Trump, Bobby is overall a sweet lovable idiot who even admits that he only ran for office to appease his father. His campaign, however, is run similarly to Trump’s. Threats are made and his campaign manager questions and disparages Leslie’s character every chance they get.
Running against them are a slew of characters all of whom seem to only have one issue they actually care about:
Manrico Della Rosa / Bernie Sanders
Fester Trim / Ted Cruz
Brandi Maxxxx / Carly Fiorina
Another similarity that should be noted is how the media favored the rich guy. Trump received enormous amounts of attention compared to any of the other candidates. Trump is estimated to have received up to $2 billion worth of free media, more than any of the Republicans candidates combines and more than twice what Hillary received. In Pawnee, Sweetums owns the local newspaper, The Pawnee Journal, and the media and community all fall in love with Bobby, who comes off as a victim of Leslie’s stronger political background. Her experience makes her seem like one of the bureaucracy while her opponent is just another everyday guy. In Bobby and Trump, the voters see an outsider, someone they believe they can trust with their interests. This is hardly the case.
The people in Pawnee are clueless and irrational. They have unrealistic demands and don’t fully understand the consequences of what they ask for. A large part of Leslie’s job is educating the citizens of her town and fighting to better their lives even when they attack her and support others. Surveys have shown that much of Trump’s supporters are less educated than those who support other candidates. Trump has even stated, “I love the poorly educated” in response to these findings. This brings about the question of whether or not democracy truly works. Leslie often questions whether or not the citizens of her town truly know what’s actually best for them. Whether it’s healthier standards of food or improved park systems, the people are portrayed as lacking in understanding and reason.
Leslie notes that no matter how hard she works and how much better her city becomes she also receives credit for all that is wrong as well. It is a thankless job. In the end, what wins her the vote is her passion and her love for Pawnee. In Parks and Recreation, the most qualified person ended up getting the job. Let’s hope that the same holds true for us.
[ADD-VIDEOMOSH-TRAILER id=’52774′ type=’video’]
Joseph has been called many things in his life. Musician, brother, elf-friend, but the most poisonous thing he’s ever been called is journalist. That is to say that the person who called him that meant it in the worst way possible. Regardless, Joseph likes to think of himself as a journalist on his best day and his worst. People have said that being around him is akin to being in an art museum: you’re afraid to make noise and feel as though you’re being judged by inanimate objects.