Funny how the literature we adore as children winds up with parallels in our adult lives. Take it from a geek who read The Hobbit and the entire Lord of the Rings series – and then reinforced the lessons as J.R. R. Tolkien’s books went to the big screen.
The health care debacle can be told vis-à-vis these characters. Let us hope that, at some point, President Trump grasps the analogies.
In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo (President Trump) accepts the task as the only one who can take the Ring of Power (massive corruption, bloated government) and destroy it in the Crack of Doom at Mordor (draining the swamp and, thus, making American great again).
Frodo knows the Ring of Power corrupts. He can handle the temptation that has destroyed so many others and feels it is his duty to fulfill his promise to save Middle Earth (America).
Throughout his journey, Frodo is tempted by the Ring and increasingly believes himself isolated. Only he can undertake the task at hand.
Gollum (The Establishment) regularly presents himself to help Frodo navigate, as only Gollum knows the path to Mordor, understands the burden of the ring and can help Master Frodo with his quest.
Samwise (Freedom Caucus), Frodo’s most loyal and trusted friend, warns Frodo that Gollum has ulterior motives and is only helping if it serves Gollum’s best interest. Sam argues that Gollum merely wants the ring back for himself.
Frodo will have none of it. He belittles and chastens Sam while deferring regularly to Gollum. Because Sam shares Frodo’s ultimate vision and has pledged to help Frodo accomplish his goal, he meekly submits to the abuse with steadfast kindness. Frodo forgets he wouldn’t have made it this far without Sam’s ongoing support. Sam understands the pressures exerted on the ring-bearer and will aid Frodo, at all costs, to do the right thing while never letting Frodo forget his vow and purpose.
Sam believes Frodo is sincere — or Sam would not be committed to the cause. Sam seems to have greater insight into the difficulty of the chore, and so he is there when he knows Frodo will fall. Sam, however, also sees how the burden of the ring has changed Frodo and fears that his leader may lack the final will to finish the task.
Although Sam seeks and receives little credit, he is always there to press the mission forward. Near the end of the last sequel as Frodo is devoid of energy, Sam says lovingly, “I can’t carry the ring for you, but I can carry you”.
In the end, Frodo cannot do it on his own. He is corrupted by the Ring and refuses to destroy it. Gollum, taking advantage of Frodo’s vulnerabilities, bites off Frodo’s finger and recovers the ring. Only then, when Frodo is stripped of his power, does he realize his mistake and pushes Gollum into the fiery pit, simultaneously destroying Gollum and the Ring of Power.
In the Trump comparison, we are at the phase of the journey at which Frodo is chastening Sam without understanding Gollum´s true identity and intentions.
How will the balance of the story play out in real politics today? Will Trump be corrupted by the Ring? Will he keep to his promise of destroying the Ring, keep it for himself or surrender it to a perpetually planning, conniving Gollum?
Does he recognize his true friends? Does he realize who helped get him this far? Will he heed Sam’s advice and wise counsel? Does he understand that Sam will hold him accountable to his oath and promises, even as Frodo lashes out in anger?
The story is not yet over. Trump may have the right intentions, but without his own Sam Wise would already have veered from his original path.
Today, our path is set and our vision clear. Let us not be led astray by the Gollums of the world but stick to the mission at-hand. This may mean we are subject to abuse and ridicule. It may even mean that, to accomplish a goal, we have to “carry the ring-bearer.”