One of the most noticeable phenomena of recent times is the rise of the comedian-politician. And by that I don’t mean a funny guy running the country, I mean professional comedians who turn to politics. In democracies that is.
Just the other day, a comedian called Volodymyr Zelensky won the first round of voting in the Ukraine — and he looks likely to be the next president. He’s the star of a comedy TV show about a schoolteacher who becomes president, in which he plays… the president. It’s like Martin Sheen becoming US President while The West Wing was still being made — with laughs.
In Italy, there’s Beppe Grillo, the leader of the powerful 5-Star movement, which is reshaping the face of Italian politics. He started life as a comedian on television and then moved to the internet when he was exiled from TV. Then there’s TV comedian turned president of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, elected in 2015 on an anti-corruption platform. Sadly, it turns out he’s pretty corrupt himself.
In this country, the United Kingdom, two of the most prominent Brexiters — Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson — became public figures by appearing on panel shows as sort
of caricature toffs. Both were hired over and over again by broadcasters because they were “funny”. In Brazil, the new president, Jair Bolsanaro, became a household name because TV producers found his opinions so risible that his presence added a bit of entertainment to otherwise serious shows.
Then there’s Donald Trump himself, whose career in television began as a host of wrestling shows, which are a form of comedy entertainment. His turn as “big shot” on The Apprentice was also played partially for laughs.
If you were giving advice for a hopeful democratic candidate anywhere in the world, maybe you could keep it simple: “Get on television; make them laugh.”
Of course, some would argue, that Ronald Reagan showed the way, making the switch from actor to politician in the 1950s. Actually, maybe he was just following in the footsteps of Dan Rice, the 19th century clown who ran for president. And in other big democracies, particularly India and the Philippines, the list of film stars going into politics is long, and goes back decades.
But there are two differences. First of all, the current crop are comedians rather than actors, and secondly they come from the small screen, not the big one. Trump, Grillo and Morales have all been called demagogues.
So, you might ask, what’s this got to do with astrology?
The comedians in power are telling us something of the spirit of our times, the Geist created by the various energies of the planets.
Italy’s 5-Star Movement began its rise to political power in 2013. Trump and Morales both took office in 2016. Britain voted for Brexit that same year. The political success of these TV personalities has taken place in the last decade, while Neptune has been in Pisces — and the boundaries between the real and the unreal have been extremely thin.
Neptune will continue in Pisces until 2026 — so we have a long way to go — and we should be becoming aware of the affect of the planet of illusion swimming in his own ocean. He is extremely powerful. Right now, we are coming out of an intense Mercury Retrograde in which the planet of ideas conjoined Neptune three times — and we saw extraordinary confusion all over the world, notably in the British parliament. What is real, who is lying?
When we laugh, we lose ourselves a little, we bond with the person making us laugh. But this is, of course, a one-sided illusion. It’s simply that we believe ourselves to be communing with the comedians. In fact, they are people just like us — and they are not bonding with us. The television audience is not the same as a live audience, after all. We are divided by the screen; the screen that also joins us. That is Neptunian. The boundary is invisible but it’s there. Some of us are aware of it; and some of us are not.
It’s interesting to follow the transits of Jupiter to Neptune here. Jupiter is, of course, Pisces other ruler, and it seems as if the bounds of probability might get stretched a little further at the squares and oppositions — 2013 (Gemini), 2016 (Virgo), 2019 (Sagittarius). Watch for the conjunction in Pisces in 2022.
Trump, Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Bolsanaro, Grillo and Morales all have important planets in the mutable dual signs, Gemini and Pisces. Gemini, in particular is known for its repartee. Both signs are known for their ability to switch from dark to light and back again, and both are particularly affected by this transit of Neptune.
This year, some of the most gripping television has come from inside government. In the US, in just the last six months: Michael Cohen’s testimony, Dr Christine Ford’s testimony, Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing. But none of that was funny. And sadly, currently, the British Houses of Parliament are proving more entertaining, surprising and emotional than any drama show. But this is real life, real people and the dramas we watch unfold will affect many more lives.
This confusion between real and not real is specific in the oxymoron “fake news”, so often used by Donald Trump and his followers. If you don’t believe anything, then you believe in nothing. If your beliefs are void, then you’re open to exploitation by the next comedian.
The question for 2019 might be: what do you believe in?
This article appears in the lates issue of Infinity Astrology Magazine.