On May 12, Netflix released the documentary “Get Me Roger Stone,” which follows the career of infamous political figure Roger Stone from his childhood, to his rise and eventual role as a major influence on the Republican Party, the Nixon and Reagan campaigns and eventually the driving force behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The greatest accomplishment of co-directors Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme, is not the colorful, sometimes dark and mostly entertaining persona of Stone, but rather the incredible insight that it gives into the current state of U.S. politics, the overtake of the Republican party by the “alt-right movement” and the breakdown of “the media” as we know it.
It’s also a disturbing portrait of how easily the modern voter is manipulated by political “characters.”
What we have is the best insight so far into how the basic principles of marketing and advertising were used in favor of the Trump campaign. Through the mind of Stone, we see the creation of a candidate that was able to become the embodiment of a prescription drug commercial, by revealing every possible side-effect about his persona, and yet at the same time promoting himself as the “cure” for the United States’ problems.
We also see the “birth” of lobbying in U.S. politics and the ramifications that Stone and Paul Manafort’s previous consulting firm might have had in Trump’s campaign and later accusations of collusion with Russia.
Stone throughout the documentary mentions doing “whatever it takes to win,” and through this he shows the side of politics that people have come to hate and mistrust. The idea of “whatever it takes” combined with a a side of “It’s non of your business” is what politicians in general, and more specifically the Republican party, have been oozing for the last couple of years.
Just like Trump, Stone likes to brag about his accomplishments and his persona in order to give the impression that he doesn’t care about blowing everything up, which seems to be the main theme behind this documentary and is also how Donald Trump sells himself.
The documentary steps into the minds of Trump voters in the 2016 election, which seem to be filled mostly with anger, which led politicians and figures like Donald Trump and Roger Stone to take advantage of this anger and, with a campaign of misinformation and smear, create a national movement.
They also paved the way for the far right media outlets to thrive, like Fox News and Info Wars, which formed symbiotic relationships with Trump, in which he serves as the “ideal” conservative savior from which to build a movement, while they nurture and seclude his base in order to remain loyal to him.
Trump’s base seems to be here to stay and there’s many current political figures fighting over who will be Trump’s successor in the “anti-establishment” movement.
Jane Mayer, a writer for the New Yorker who appears throughout the documentary, sums up the current U.S. political situation in one quote:
“It’s angry white working class voters whose resentments are being milked to push an agenda that’s useful to some of the richest people in the country. These are hardly people who are in tune with the little guy, but they understand how to manipulate his interests.”
It seems that it’s not the death of the establishment we’re witnessing, but rather the creation of a new one, that’s more cunning and more manipulative.