Takeaways From Trump’s Unbelievable Victory
Brandon Sun, November 21, 2016 -
Trump is a triumph of celebrity and personality. But at the heart is a vain and vindictive man. No wonder we often heard the word “narcissist”!
Even friends and supporters say Trump’s run for the presidency was motivated by revenge. The spark: Barack Obama making fun of Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner.
“I try to step back and remember my first shallow reaction,” Trump once said. “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience.”
Trump is a great communicator of simplistic ideas. “Look where the world is today, a total mess, and ISIS is still running wild,” he said in a typical tweet. “I can fix it fast.”
Trump speaks mainly in monosyllables. One study found that the second most common word used by him is “Trump.” His most commonly used word? “I.”
This election could be the last one where religion plays such a big role. But what a role! And what a role model! Trump is famous for putting down women. And he is idealized by religious Americans who want to curtail women’s rights and women’s access to abortion, birth control and other health-care services.
Trump’s religious agenda: appoint ideological conservatives to the Supreme Court, defund Planned Parenthood, and end the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
The media used Trump to ramp up their audiences. But the media often did not adequately portray Trump to the American people.
Print media – newspapers, magazines, books – did the best job of scrutinizing Trump. Trump’s shallowness, however, looked good on TV. He also looked good on the Internet, especially on social media – where many people now get their news.
Also, people increasingly stick to the same familiar media sources. Linked to Trump’s ascent: Fox News, right-wing websites, and fake stories and conspiracy theories shared on Facebook.
During the election, I tried to sample a range of media. One was the blog of “Dilbert” cartoonist Scott Adams. A trained hypnotist, Adams noted how Trump appealed to people’s irrational instincts. (So that’s why Trump said he would fulfill “every dream you've ever dreamed!”)
Adams identified Trump as a “master persuader” and predicted early on that he would win both the Republican nomination and the general election.
Trump tapped into popular anger and frustration. Many voters wanted to figuratively hurl Trump as a Molotov cocktail to burn down their government. But voters also entrenched an establishment Republican Congress – so good luck with that!
The Democrats did not relate to voters and their concerns about jobs, illegal immigration, terrorism, corruption, and more. Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment was – well – deplorable. The Democrats also alienated voters with political correctness – like not naming terrorism “Islamic.” The Democrats failed by not listening to folks, by not developing better policies, and by not explaining that solutions would be difficult.
Trump got close to 61 million votes – about the same as previous Republican hopefuls John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.
Clinton got over 61 million votes – more than Trump although not enough electors in the “electoral college.” But Clinton fell short of Obama-size numbers: his 69 million votes in 2008 and 66 million in 2012.
These totals show that the U.S. can be a progressive, centre-left country. But if citizens want their government to reflect that, they have to get out and vote!
This is scary. The president-elect of the U.S. is a vile individual dangerously unsuited for the job. Among the disasters ahead is Trump’s plan to undo Obama’s initiatives on climate change.
“How do we move forward?” American philosopher Sam Harris asks that question in his post-election podcast, The Most Powerful Clown. One important goal, Harris says, would be to avoid the extreme identity politics of both the right and the left.
“What we need are smart, ethical people in the political centre who can defend freedom of speech, and science, and the norms of civil discourse.”
Media variety is also vital. I hope people would check out different information sources. As well, where possible, they would financially support the media that lend a thoughtful voice, including newspapers, magazines and podcasts.
Looking ahead, we can only be cautiously optimistic. “I’ll be very grateful,” Harris says, “if – after four years – Donald Trump hasn’t set back human progress a generation.”
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