Authors’ note: The election of Donald J. Trump to the Presidency in November 2016 raised many questions, not all of which have been answered. It is suggested that a less conventional view of the events of that day provide a more satisfactory explanation. In particular, Alfred Jarry’s ‘The Crucifixion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race’ and Ballard’s ‘The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy as a Downhill Motor Race’ give us useful leads.
Sanders, slated to start, was scratched.
Obama was the starter. The former champion, retiring from racing, gave the send-off.
Clinton made a good start on the donkey. Some commentators have suggested that her choice of steed, and a propensity to ride facing backwards, were tactical misjudgements. Trump, on the elephant, was slow out of the gate.
The Capitol track is one of the most difficult on the circuit. We need hardly mention the deplorable events of 1865, 1881, 1897 and 1963, all of which concerned malpractice in the use of the starting pistol. For this steeplechase, modern electronic methods were used instead.
Clinton gained an early lead, but could never quite outdistance her rival, who loomed behind her. The partisan crowd appeared to strongly support the less experienced challenger, although later head-counts of the crowd in fact revealed a significant margin of support for Clinton.
Visiting teams. Although the Capitol track has traditionally been a two-horse steeplechase, several other teams were present. The Russian team provided technical support to the elephant rider, along with the Ecuadorian commentator. One of the stewards, Comey, was seen on the track but Clinton’s claims of interference were disregarded by the crowds and commentators. In the middle of the race, Clinton cleared the three hurdles with a significant lead.
The turns. Clinton’s race took a turn for the worse. In the final furlongs, the donkey went downhill rapidly.
The flag. Trump, on the elephant, won by a nose.
In view of the continuing interference in the race, which resulted in Clinton, clearly expected to be the winner on past form and experience, faltering in the final straight, it has been suggested that the hostile crowd, eager to see a win by the elephant driver, deliberately set out to see her lose the race. Another theory maintains that the stewards were in collusion with the visiting team, whose presence remains unresolved.
Several puzzling aspects of the race remain. One is the presence of the elephant driver’s daughter in the weighing room, an unusual practice among steeplechase riders. Another is the sharp decline in the presence of the favourite’s supporters on the route, with some suggestion of suppression.
The course. In the aftermath of the race, it is likely that the shape of the course will be remodelled, with more sharp turns to the right. Future races may be discontinued entirely. Of the losing rider, one can be sure that her race misfired. The question remains: who placed the bets on the winner?