Thursday, March 03, 2016

The Biggest Winner

There is something deeply condescending about some of the responses I hear, and feel myself, towards the rise of Trump. Before this (two) year's American Elections, my favourite Reality TV show was 'The Biggest Loser'. I don't watch it often, but I love the idea. That people can step outside of life for a bit, and join a group of people, with support, to turn their lives around. I did two, one-month yoga courses. The chance to stop what I was doing and focus on my mental and physical health for a bit was something I treasured. Treasured so much in fact, that it did contribute to me thinking, 'why can't I do that all the time' and plotting independence.

But enter Trump. Like slowing down at a car crash, it is impossible not to watch. TV channels switch away from candidates talking about policy. They provide air time for free to Trump and people talking about Trump. They do this because that is what we want to watch. The youtube clips of Rubio and Trump trading insults about finger size and who sweats the most. The problem with this reality show is that the prize are the nuclear codes.

The fact is Trump has added sugar, fat, salt and tequila to the election. Policy doesn't matter. He doesn't need to be consistent. It isn't a case for voting for 'what he stands for'. This frees him up tremendously to have strong, independent, contradictory ideas. That is where the condescension lies. It is easy to write him of as being raised by uneducated people ('I love the poorly educated' Trump). I think the way he is pitching his campaign is closer to how most of us think. Not what, but how.

Tequila Suicide - Snort the salt & squeeze the lemon in your eye 

Most of us Trump through issues rather than thinking through them. Most of us don't think whether it is possible for us to think A and B. To believe up AND down. Once we have a hero for the stuff that matters to us, we stop thinking about what they think about other stuff. 

That is a big problem. Most things have trade offs. We know that from our close personal relationships. We know all about give and take with people we share time and space with. As soon as things get too big, that knowledge falls away. It's too complicated, so we focus on the stuff that matters to us. That empowers politicians or leaders or anyone who wants your attention to feed off your triggers. They can get good at knowing what winds you up. What inspires you. What angers you. They can play you rather than educate you.

Things are more complicated than we think. If we constantly set ourselves up in opposition to other people. We are going to get Trumped. If you look at the other party and say they are evil. We are going to get Trumped. If you turn anyone who wants to get involved in politics or helping society, but disagrees, into a villain... we are going to get Trumped. Thinking through issues and building a society together is hard work.

His rise, and the rise of his kind all over the world (this isn't just an American problem) is not the fault of someone else. Solving Trump doesn't start with mocking Trump supporters. If you vilify your opposition, you are a Trump supporter. Calling anyone evil or stupid is a vote for Trump. We have to own our crazies. We have to partner with people who have views that are different. We have to partner with people with prejudices. Because we have different views from everyone else. We have prejudices. 

All of us. 
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