North Korea’s ‘Propaganda Village’ comes to heart of America’s grand old party

Paul Ryan and Donald Trump

Let’s replay the Donald Trump-Paul Ryan lovefest in slow motion. Lest we forget, Mr Ryan is the most senior elected Republican Party politician in the US. Donald Trump is The Donald, a wannabe president of the United States, orange-skinned and with elaborately folded hair, spewing obscenities, insults and divisive tripe in place of reasoned policy positions.

Last week, Mr Ryan said he wasn’t ready to support his party’s nominee for president, leading us all to believe it was a principled position that came from the heart.

So now, let’s replay the Trump-Ryan lovefest. Slowly. Yes, really. Let’s go over the great unification show in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. It would not be faulted in Pyongyang.

How scripted can that “positive step” towards unity be? How much of the reality (in North Koreaa, the zipped-lip of the factory worker) is it seemly to ignore? How much can one take of the fact that Paul Ryan, the great conservative ideologue of the Republican Party, now agrees he has very “few differences” with a xenophobia-supporting narcissist such as Donald Trump?

There is the unmistakable sense of a Potemkin Village thrown up in the heart of a grand old party in the world’s most advanced democracy. To hoodwink the people.

How else to hear Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus’s easy dismissal of Mr Trump’s race-baiting insults, Islamophobia and naked misogyny?

Mr Priebus said it was agreed that “tone and tenor” are important. What about the substance, Mr Priebus?

Does it not matter that the Republican Party nominee for president seems to hold — or at least, to repeatedly voice — hateful opinions of Muslims, Mexicans, disabled people, women and people with politically liberal views? Is it somehow better that he just says it with bettor “tone and tenor” during the general election campaign?

It reminds me just a little of Kijongdong, the so-called “Propaganda Village” within the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. The North Koreans claim that 200 families call the model “city” home, and that it includes a childcare centre, a kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, and a hospital. But they reckonned without the truth — and the fact that it is the only place in North Korea that can be seen from anywhere across the border. So, South Koreans can see that the city is always deserted and that very occasionally, some lights flicker in order to create the illusion that people live there.

Those outside the Republican Party can see its unity-fest as pretty much like that North Korean propaganda village. And the attempt — by serious politicians — to sign up to a reality TV star’s bizarre and divisive flip-flopping political campaign, as fakery focused only on winning the election. It’s got nothing to do with providing the American people a credible and worthy choice.

It is all the more degraded for the implicit acknowledgement, as came from Mr Priebus, that everything is about show, about tone and tenor, and let the country go hang.

Originally published at on May 13, 2016.

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on email me at

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