But while over-the-top reality TV has become a familiar launching pad and soft landing spot for Republicans, there is something curiously missing from that ecosystem: Democrats.
You could chalk it up to yet another irreconcilable difference between the parties, driven partly by history, partly by demographics and partly by Trump himself, who applied the rules of reality TV to the Washington news cycle. If Trump was an affront to liberal sensibilities, so might be any reality show that feels bawdy, brash, over-the-top and open to showboating.
“There’s an enormous dignity gap in the culture,” says Steve Schmidt, a onetime Republican political consultant who left the GOP in frustration over Trumpism and co-founded the anti-Trump Lincoln Project. He says Biden and Trump voters have different standards for a public servant’s behavior. A Biden fan is inclined to judge politicians by “your bearing, how you comport yourself, how you act,” he says. “‘Am I going to go on ‘Dancing With the Stars in a sequined outfit?’ ‘No, I’m not.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Because I was governor of Texas for four years.’”
But Schmidt also acknowledged that reality TV has become, not just a useful political tool for anyone who is sufficiently shameless, but a game-changer in public discourse.