It takes a few standard elements to make an effective campaign website in 2016. It’s like they’re all assembled from the same generic kit. A red-white-and-blue color scheme is mandatory, for instance. That’s something upon which even Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton can agree. Some vague, optimistic promises are nice, too, as well as a highly selective biography that bears only a passing resemblance to the truth. Throw in some flattering photographs, inspiring slogans, sly propaganda, and a heaping helping of shameless self-promotion, and the site is complete. That’s how it works for real candidates, and that’s how it works for fictional ones, too, as proven by this frighteningly accurate campaign website for Veep character Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons). In the HBO comedy’s fifth season, the weaselly and widely despised Ryan is running for Congress in his home state of New Hampshire. Although completely satirical, the site is so well put together that it could pass for the real thing. Compare, for instance, the image that welcomes visitors to Ryan’s site:
To the one at Trump’s site:
The verisimilitude of the fictional Ryan campaign extends to a series of ridiculous ads, each one trying to present the unlikable, duplicitous candidate as a folksy, L.L. Bean-clad man of the people, the kind of guy who likes chopping wood and chasing children around playgrounds on crisp autumn days. Each spot is a mini-masterpiece of insincerity and awkwardness. Ryan emerges as a man who is not only shallow but, paradoxically, profoundly shallow. Here he is, talking about the importance of children, à la “The Greatest Love Of All”: “Even though I don’t have any children yet, I plan on having some in the future, and that’s why I’m running for Congress today.” So it’s for the children, see.
What’s truly disquieting about the website is that it’s completely passable. Ryan offers nothing but clichés, empty promises, and corny platitudes with no genuine or honest thought behind them. Yet, his site is polished and presentable enough to get him elected to office.