Revenge of the ghostwriters

The 2016 race has seen a flood of ghostwriters and speechwriters peeking out from behind the curtain to remind us of their existence — and that these are not your politician's words

The ghostwriter has a unique intimacy.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Images courtesy Getty Images)

When it comes to electoral drama, we live in debased but discerning times. Few Republican and Democratic conventions have more notoriously revealed our political theater to be just that: stagecraft and scripts. We've consented to this. We demand it, in fact: Critics on either side who feel that Bernie Sanders shouldn't have looked so glum, or that Ted Cruz should have endorsed Donald Trump, are explicitly demanding veneer over substance, and a lot of horse-race coverage frames its questions in terms that interrogate strategy rather than principle: How will Trump appeal to Bernie supporters? What demographic did Clinton hope to court with Katy Perry? Frankly, the expectation of sincerity is so passé that many observers (I include myself) are surprised when a moment that feels authentic takes place at an event that mostly doesn't.

This isn't as cynical as it seems: The people demanding that Sanders and Cruz conceal their true feelings believe — perhaps rightly — that political theater sometimes matters more than political fact. The appearance of unity has power in the same way that smiling can allegedly make you feel happier.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us