Rarely does today’s art imitate life; recently, the cast of Hamilton unintentionally did so. In its own vain attempt to publicly shame Vice President-elect Mike Pence, it managed to vindicate the election’s outcome to the rest of the country. The cast proved that even weeks removed, America’s elite still does not understand what cost them this election.
Last week, the vice president-elect took his family to see the hit musical Hamilton in New York. As countless numbers before him, he expected to be entertained. However, unlike the preceding throngs, he and his family got an additional show of performance art.
Stopping applause during the curtain call, Brandon Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, singled out Pence to the crowd. Dixon then pulled out his additional “gratis” script and encouraged the rest of the audience to record him. He then delivered his ungracious monologue, the gist of which was: “We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir…”
To parse through Dixon’s words would only serve to elevate accusation. What is worth noting is the episode itself. It takes a consummate coward to premeditatedly attack a defenseless man. It is unwittingly appropriate that “Aaron Burr” was chosen to do so, since that is precisely what Burr did to Hamilton in their infamous duel. However, even Burr did not manage to have Hamilton’s children present, when he perpetrated his assassination. That makes this attack truly special.
Days later, Dixon, for whom prodigious fame from the musical is apparently insufficient, took to the talk shows to attempt to generate more. There, he informed the world that no apology is necessary, that for an apology to be expected would require a leap of faith worthy of Gulliver in Lilliput. Mr. Dixon is assuredly too busy clearing mantle space for the Tony that he likely expects his latest role to win him than to be bothered with apologies. To him and the cast he fronted for, if anyone should be apologizing, it should be Pence.
The irony in all this is that the day’s best performance goes to Pence, who professed only admiration for the show in all subsequent interviews. Now, that is acting. And if not actually acting, then at least acting with class — something that alluded Mr. Dixon and his cast-mates.
Of course, Hamilton is nothing if not ironic. After all, it is a play deservedly dedicated to a now largely overlooked Founding Father, whose greatest attribute was his ability in high finance and economics. And it is a play that is chiefly lauded among the nation’s intellectual elite who despise both high finance and economics in their own age.
While Dixon and the elite audience before which he pandered and preened on Nov. 19 are smugly self-satisfied, if the rest of the nation is attuned at all to this narcissism, they are shocked. However, once the rest of us get past the inappropriately mean-spirited accosting of a public official and his family in what should be a private setting, we should see it for the gift it is. Unknowingly, Dixon has given us the perfect metaphor for the recent election.
After the real performance, there came the surreal one. However, it was, in many respects, the truer. In that one, it was not Dixon or “Burr” lecturing but America’s elite. And it was not directed at Pence or his family but Middle America that had dared to elect Trump.
It was a choreographed updating of Hillary Clinton’s unintended diatribe, where the wheels began coming off her campaign wagon. At a 9/9 fundraiser, Clinton let fly with her broadest and most pointed attack on Trump’s supporters: “… you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”
There are many excuses that could be thrown over this. Yet the most logical is that she meant them. Despite her penchant for meticulous scripting, here was a moment of liberal candor — her Freudian slip showed.
Clinton apologized for her remark, but the damage was done. Dixon did not feel an apology was needed, because the election was already over. Where Hillary could not, he could: Speak the elite’s mind.
To the elite, it is their stage. They have every right to be lecturing from it — just as they are the rightful ones to be acting on it. The upstart “deplorables” are fit only to be their audience — to applaud on cue, to accept the performance they are given, and to call it art.
It is the elites’ theater, their values, and their script. The rest of us are there to simply fill the seats in their production. To pay their bills. And then to get out of the way and let them get on with their art.
Yet on Election Day, the “deplorables” won. They seized the stage. They rewrote the script. They pushed aside the elitist cast and became the actors. And now they have their own show.
The Hamilton episode proves that, weeks after their expulsion, the elites still neither understand it nor accept it. They do not realize that they lost their audience — America. They continue to delude themselves that if they keep putting on their old performance, somehow the crowds will come back. So the elites continue to act out, because they simply cannot help themselves.