At exactly what moment did politics turn into professional wrestling?
Trump stump speeches now threaten to break out into brawls. It's really come to this?
How long before Clinton sneaks out from under the stage and splits Bernie's wig with a steel folding chair? How long before Trump starts coming out in spandex tights and a superhero cape to Motorhead lyrics? (Don't tell me you can't envision that.) How long before Cruz and Rubio form a tag team, only to plot to stab each other in the back at first opportunity?
And, like pro wrestling, we would be quite naive to believe that at least some of the drama isn't being thoroughly scripted.
Why shouldn't the campaign take a wrestling-promo turn? The leading candidate for the Republicans has starred in the ring at Wrestlemania, and the Demo leader once cut a promo for the wrestling show RAW.
Who would have thought that we could have a WWE Hall of Famer as president? Well, we all did of course, we just figured it would be The Rock.
And, as Senator Hillary Clinton said in her address to wrestling fans during her first run for president in 2008, insisting that they call her "Hill-Rod"... "This election is starting to feel a lot like King of the Ring. The only difference? The last man standing may be a woman... You need a president who will go to the mat for you. . She threatened to deliver an elbow drop to anyone who stands in her way. Not kidding. These are people who will do or say anything to get elected.
And if you are starting to wonder if any of them are fit, or even not dangerous, you're probably not alone.
Clearly, candidates today have learned their craft from the wily Vince McMahon, villain demagogue of the successful wrestling empire. The recipe is the same.
1. Simplify the world to a third-grade level, good vs. evil.
2. Glorify insatiable ego, chant a name in mass, blindly refuse to consider they could do any wrong.
3. Employ boasting and schoolyard insults - if you have nothing to add to the discourse, just call everyone stupid.
4. Declare incredibly simple, instant solutions to very complicated issues. Many people today have the attention span of a fruit fly, and their prime source of research is funny cell phone Facebook memes.
5. If it's loud enough, repeated enough, and has a nifty catch phrase attached, it must be right.
6. Disguise hate and fear as patriotism.
7. Rile those crowds, don't let them go and think too much, since you haven't given them any details of how your promises could actually be achieved or paid for. And don't forget to sell them a t-shirt on the way out.
That's pro wrestling 101, in a nutshell.
Trump famously postured about a protester in Vegas: "I'd like to punch him in the face."
You can almost hear him add, "We can do it in the ring, we can do it in the parking lot, or we can wait and do it in 18 weeks at the pay-per-view Convention '16, available now for only $9.99 plus tax."
Not exactly what we're used to hearing from a prospective leader of the free world, but not much about this campaign has been normal.
Which goes to show just how disillusioned people are with what has passed for politics as usual in Washington. On the Democrat side, a self-described socialist has mounted a stern challenge to an experienced heir apparent, with promises of social windfalls and corporation-smashing.
On the Republican side, experienced leaders are playing catch-up to a pop celebrity, with no pretense that knowledge of foreign policy or diplomacy matters. The world wonders what is going on with this country.
What's going on, of course, is a breakdown in which our two-party system is incapable of effectively addressing any issue. Not health care, not national debt, not gun violence, not taxation, not weed. Nothing.
Which has left frustrated people grasping for any hope - not necessarily a great hope, but something different.
Where did all this come from?
Of late, ours has been a society dominated by reality show sensibilities, demanding constant mindless entertainment, and blurring the line between reality and make-believe. Feeding the id, I believe they called it back in freshman psychology - whatever feels good at the moment, with no regard for reality or consequences. That pretty much sums up the state of things.
We want brash, provocative, reckless. A candidate explaining a solid economic policy may get a paragraph on page 16D that no one reads, but let the candidates debate their penis size or call each names that 11-year-old bullies would consider immature, and its the lead story on CNN Politics.
Ah, we like to say we really want thoughtful and polite discourse that sticks to deep, intellectual examination of pertinent issues. Sure, that would get ratings.
And rainbow unicorns will fly out of your favorite candidate's rear.
For a quite large segment of our society, a political rally should be part Kardashians, part Jersey Shore, part fire-and-brimstone preachifying, and especially part steel cage match. Bash the gays and Mexicans and Muslims and moderates a bit, and you've got must-see entertainment.
You've got a good portion of the 2016 Presidential campaign.
And now, we've got violence.
If we have a candidate urging his groupies to "knock the crap out of" opponents, glorifying the good ol' days when protestors would have been carted out on stretchers, and promising to pay supporters' defense when they are charged with assault, it can't be a shock if things get ugly.
That doesn't, of course, make it right.
There are ways to argue, and ways to protest. Among them, voting.
Throwing things, pushing people, charging stages, shouting down a candidate, are not means of free speech.
Thinking people can't allow a candidate to be silenced, any candidate, and the day when a political speech has to be called off for fear people will hurt themselves and others in rioting is a sad day for democracy.
In pro wrestling, there is always a chance for another show next week to get things right. What happens in this campaign, we will have to live with for at least four long, long years. Be careful what you root for.