Wrestling with Politics

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August 29, 2008

DENVER -- As Sen. Barack Obama accepted the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party on Thursday night, the screaming acolytes and tremendous pageantry of the occasion served to substantiate a truism that political analyst Marc Ambinder has known for quite some time: politics and professional wrestling are often separated by nothing more than a thin, red ring rope.

"When staged correctly, both [politics and pro wrestling] can be mesmerizing," says Armbinder, a lifelong WWE fan, an associate editor at Atlantic Monthly magazine and the chief political consultant for CBS News.

In both professions, whether a man wears tights or a tie, he attempts to paint himself as the only choice in the minds of viewers or voters.

"Both professions tend to divide people into good and evil," explains Ambinder. "For example, to Democrats, Republicans are ‘heels' while other Democrats are ‘babyfaces.'"

Not only does politics and professional wrestling share a similar sense of drama, says Ambinder, the two also share a similar work ethic.

"Politics is exhausting," says the political expert, who attended his fourth convention this year and has logged around a dozen WWE live events. "Both politicians and wrestlers are very hearty, and the fans appreciate when each performs effectively."

And as was witnessed in April when Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain addressed WWE viewers directly, both political parties realize the importance of the WWE Universe as a voting bloc.

"WWE fans are a sought after demographic for both [political] parties," says Ambinder. "Both Democrats and Republicans respect the WWE and respect their part in voter registration efforts." 

While Ambinder speaks as an admirer of both the political process and the art of sports-entertainment, his insights suggest that the two are more intertwined than most observers had ever imagined.

For cynics, perhaps the final affirmation of Ambinder's thoughts are encapsulated in a single, eccentric Superstar from the past now known by a different title: former Governor of Minnesota, Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

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