How Cersei & Tyrion's Argument On 'Game Of Thrones' Channelled Donald Trump's Disturbing Nationalism
The Lannister family has been divided for years, thanks to grudges, illicit twincest, and sibling rivalries. But while in previous seasons, everything about the family's split seemed pretty larger than life, Tyrion and Cersei's conflict felt more relevant than ever in the Game of Thrones Season 7 finale. In the episode, "The Dragon and the Wolf," the two estranged siblings came face to face to debate the responsibility for fighting the Great War. Tyrion, as the Hand to Daenerys, advocated in favor of saving humanity from the zombie army, but Cersei focused on more pressing concerns: herself and her family. Together, the two Lannisters perfectly illustrated what is at the heart of not just the show's major battle, but of one of the major political conflicts of our actual time: nationalism versus globalism.
In GoT, Tyrion represents a more globalist way of thinking. During the scene, he tells Cersei that he supports Daenerys not because he wants to see his sister destroyed, but because "I think she will make the world a better place." He wants Daenerys to win in her fight for the Iron Throne. However, he also knows that the Night King is coming and sees the value in pressing pause on the royal squabble in favor of saving humanity. Cersei, however, has a different opinion. "I don't care about checking my worst impulses. I don't care about making the world a better place," she tells her brother. "Hang the world."
Where Tyrion is concerned with the preservation of the world so that he can improve it, Cersei is only concerned with her own survival and that of those closest to her, as she signals to Tyrion by suggesting she is pregnant. The threat of the Army of the Dead doesn't make Cersei worry for the people of the North (aka the people she does not rule), it only makes her fear for her family. "As soon as it opened its mouth, the world disappeared for me right down its black throat," she says, speaking of the white walker. "All I could think about was keeping those mashing teeth away from the ones who matter most, away from my family."
Later, when it is revealed that Cersei plans to take advantage of Daenerys' decision to fight the White Walkers to take back some ground, it is clear that she does not care about global threats so much as she does threats to herself and her people. This isn't to say that Cersei is altogether wrong, but it points out that she and Tyrion are at opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to personal responsibility. One feels it is his duty to defend the entire world, the other just her own people.
Put simply, the conflict between Tyrion and Cersei boils down to globalism versus nationalism. American fans might recognize this opposition as one of the major aspects of the 2016 presidential campaign as well as a continued point of political strife. Imagine that instead of White Walkers, Cersei and Tyrion were speaking of the global threat of climate change. Tyrion represents the scientists and world leaders pointing out rising temperatures and extreme weather as proof of the dangers of global warming, and Cersei embodies Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, supposedly for the good of her people. "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," Trump said when announcing that he would be ending the US's commitment to the Paris Agreement, as CNN reports.
As the results of the 2016 election made clear, Trump's "America first" rhetoric earned him a lot of support. And the president continues to espouse isolationist views when it comes to things like immigration and border security. Some supporters agree that America should be considering its economic interests above all others. They, like Cersei, see their immediate fate tied to their personal success, not the survival of the planet. Granted, balancing national and global interests is a complex process, and just because someone holds certain nationalist views doesn't necessarily mean they're Cersei IRL. The threat of climate change, for instance, is, to many, not as obviously terrifying as an army of zombies. However, the parallels between Cersei and Trump's responses to today's issues cannot be ignored.
As Game of Thrones enters its final season, it will be interesting to see if the writers choose to continue tackling politics in the Trump era, even if indirectly. Now that the border of the North has been crossed by the dead, and the Wall destroyed, perhaps Season 8 will find Cersei desperately trying to build a wall of protection around her borders of Westeros while promising her people that Jon and Daenerys will pay for it. Sound familiar? Thought so.