The last of the possible Republican presidents was sent to unwittingly assassinate the prudence and moderation of conservatism. Those who were more Republican than religious forgave his glaring deficiencies and immorality. They were the dominate minority who were sold on a make-believe world that was wildly anti-establishment. It would have been, and should have been. Their leader profiled others as “good” or the worst in the world. He thought that America could be ordered to have “our values”. We would be united under one God, but which one? Gossip and trivia grew more important than substance. Anecdotal stories were thought to be enough to change the fate of the world. Paranoia replaced courage. The birds of a feather that flocked together heard their news person say “probably” but they understood it to mean “is”. Rumor made headlines because suspense had to be kept going. Profit routed honesty. “Could have been” made conspiracy into fact. “Nobody knows” is not evidence, but their blame did not need it. They searched for the smoking gun that was never fired hoping to make a mountain out of every molehill.
An Electrifying Encounter
Imagine that you are a rancher and you have an electric fence which has kept your livestock for twenty five years. Your neighbor is hiking, slips, and breaks her fall by grabbing onto it. She gets shocked and drives to the hospital emergency room. Finding no problem, they send her home. Subsequently, her husband sues you, the maker of the fence charger, and the vendors of the components used in it for millions of dollars.
The lady would no longer have sex with him, wash dishes, clean house, make the bed, and cook. She became mean and nasty. Each of these had a price that her lawyers defined in writing. The lawyer’s deposition was hundreds of pages long, containing confirmation by friends and independent authorities, opinions from college professors, and diagnosis by doctors.
There were unverified “personal facts” resulting from the electric encounter. Human shortcomings complement incompleteness causing errors of perception. We become authorities on everything we cannot comprehend. We construct our truth actively and constantly, using a tiny fraction of the information and knowledge needed for understanding. What we are left with is internal, unseen, and constantly in a process of becoming. An analyst explained that what is said in a presidential debate does not matter. It is all about how it is said. Polls show that policies account for only eight percent of how we vote. Scandals are much more important.
Real facts get in the way of beliefs. They make shades of grey. Appearances are not facts. Simple assertions are not policies. They are excuses that hide ignorance. Ann Coulter explained that a presidential candidate needs no policies. Intentions are enough! But that is not true for many jobs.
In business, we were required to negotiate realistic goals with our employees and to put them in writing. The agreement had to define promises, overt behaviors, actions, and concrete measurable accomplishments evaluated at a place and time, not everything on the first or last day. This happened quarterly. Plans were adjusted then, recognizing that the ability to keep trying is a better predictor of success than never having failed. Every manager understands that they will be held accountable for things that they do not directly and completely control. Every politician fears visibility of what they actually do. They know how to phrase goals so they cannot be measured. Rants, raves, and lofty aspirations are not goals. A rubber ruler will not do!
We unfairly discriminate when we select without regard for merit. Polls show that qualifications account for only three percent of how we vote. Merit is not the lack of failure that comes from inexperience. That is why it is important to have measurable objectives.
The internet has broadened free speech by making it easy for anyone with an opinion, regardless of how ill-informed, to alter public debate and influence opinion. Short videos have replaced the journalism that once promoted deeper thought and understanding. The wisdom of the web’s crowd chatter is a form of artificial intelligence, not professional, driven by algorithms that determine what comes up first in a search. They are based on the number of site visits, proportional to popular sensationalism, instead of verified facts and depth of analysis. Profit comes before accuracy. The loss of the value of truth is serious. It has led to the acceptance of inexperience, a disregard for evidence, and a preference for amateurism over professionalism.
The Crowd’s Wisdom
The chant of “USA, USA” resounded, but all that could be heard was “me, myself”. They were forgetting that America could find itself only by losing itself in service to others. Our economic problems cannot be solved until we discover how to add value, what we can do for our country instead of what our country can do for us.
Imagine optimizing society by picking ideal levels for each of the variables; economics, trade, defense, health, education, and immigration. Only a fool thinks that these are not interdependent and full of reality demons (reasons why you can’t do what must be done) or that a single strong personality could control them.
Blind Leading the Blind
Trump rallies are like a mob riot. The audience is not listening, they are participating. They prefer shrill speech and irrelevancy. The loudest dominate. What we need is a different venue, more than a funny book, one that will help us understand alternatives, one that realizes that life has become more complex and interdependent, one that chooses to be “wonky”, one that confronts ambiguity and complexity instead of obfuscating, manipulating and blaming.
Trump claims that if he loses in Pennsylvania, it will be because the system is rigged, unfair, and dishonest. His followers do not doubt that. They cannot believe that there could be any shortcoming in his character, style, or lack of understanding. They are convinced that only he is on their side, and that he is, at heart, like them. They should ask: What does he contribute from his unique self to others? Robert Fuller, in his 2003 book, Somebodies and Nobodies, reminded us that “we reach our full maturity and stature when we see ourselves in our heroes and find our heroes in ourselves.” In Trump’s world you get tough and cheat your competitors if you can get away with it. Play dirty, just don’t get caught. If you win, denigrate the losers. If you lose, disparage the winners.
A Feast of Fools
At the second annual Roast and Ride, August 27, Des Moines, Iowa, Trump said, “WE ARE GOING TO SEND YOU SPECIAL INTERESTS PACKING AND WE WILL ONCE AGAIN HAVE A GOVERNMENT BY AND FOR THE PEOPLE… ON EVERY ISSUE OUR CAMPAIGN IS ABOUT MAKING LIFE BETTER FOR WORKING PEOPLE. WE CAN’T ACCOMPLISH THAT GOAL WITHOUT BREAKING UP THE SPECIAL INTEREST MONOPOLY AND GIVING THE POWER BACK TO ALL OF THE PEOPLE… THE RULE OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL BEGIN. LETS GET OUR GOVERNMENT WILL BE ETHICAL AND RESPONSIVE. RULE BY SPECIAL INTERESTS WILL BE OUT.” Is there only one special interest? One person, one vote, won’t work when complicated issues, like health care and retirement, require expert help to understand.
Lifestyles of the Poor and Obscure
The tribe’s bumper sticker on the new truck reads, “Life is a Bitch”, and don’t elect one. Perhaps life was not fair to him, but does that justify being unfair to others? He hopes that Donald Trump will give him a voice in the decisions that impact his life. We hope that they will support America’s mutual concerns and serve life without disregarding individual interests.
Many feel trapped in their jobs, working like slaves without fair reward, but how we feel about wealth inequality depends more on our view of other people than economics. When Donald claims; we don’t know who they are, where they are from, and whether their values are the same as ours, he is not uniting our country as he proposes to do. Envy, fear, and intolerance vanquish empathy and understanding.
Do we live to develop a philosophy of life, or to become financially well off? It was in the 1920’s, that Supreme Court justice, Louis D. Brandeis proclaimed, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
Karl Marx saw humanity as motivated by materialism. To him, evil was the consequence of inequality and social control by the wealthy. Collectivism treated the individual as a means to achieve social perfection. In contrast, capitalism made the strong individual supreme. It recognized that competition and striving to get ahead are nature’s rules, but that was at odds with conscience.
Conservatives don’t like unions, but slavery still exists when barons take advantage of undocumented immigrants. It can be found wherever people are expendable nobodies, temporary, contingent, and lacking benefits. It occurs in places that are not seen, and in degraded, exploitive labor environments that ignore the suffering of others. To fix that, we have to focus on the conditions of employment, not the resulting wage inequality.
American workers compete with foreigners. Globalization theoretically causes our incomes to fall until all workers, world-wide, are paid the same for similar work. The price of everything will go down in equal measure, and we will all be happy, supposedly!
Nobodies have given up. They don’t vote because they see nothing changing, but that is a consequence of the rubber ruler. The world can’t run without the ignored poor. Survival is their motivation. Neediness classifies them as inferior. They are prey, the stuff of demagoguery, because they are weak and the safest target.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
Is the sole measure of a person’s worth their financial wealth? If that was so, most of us would be slaves. You can be the world’s worst negotiator, but if you can get results you will be successful. It is an illusion that money is more powerful than principle. There are many examples of fortunes squandered.
Imagine that you have finally made it, climbed to the top of the heap. How you will you keep your place? Then maybe it is time to try something different, something greater, something more spectacular. Why not run for president?
Fame, wealth, and power bestow one with high social rank and the potential for leadership. Social rank can be increased with the right friends, clothing, automobile, home, neighborhood, school, looks, and talent. A person desiring high rank and a position of leadership will display these things conspicuously for all to see.
We are impressed with celebrities and often attribute to them qualities that they do not deserve. They are not woven from a special cloth, but we envy and admire them. The adoration of the rich and famous, the wealthy and powerful, is no more justifiable than the denigration of minorities, Muslims, women, and the weak.
“Rankism” occurs when a person uses their fame, wealth, and power, outside their area of expertise, to put down another and take advantage of them. People may put up with it for a while, but eventually they will rebel and turn against it.
DebatableThe outcome of the pending elections will say more about us than the politicians. Good decisions cannot be made when extreme ideology and emotion overwhelms an absence of concrete facts.