This week we were all Trumped.
What I keep hearing is: I can’t (believe it), I didn’t think (he’d win) and How do I (explain this to my daughter?)
A new president of the United States of America is elected and the default response starts with ‘I’…?
Think about that for a moment. It might just explain what really happened at #election2016
What we learn from language
The Constitution for the United States of America starts with a preamble (how fitting):
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
In the modern day context, the campaign is the pre-preamble. It starts with ‘I’ the citizen of the United States and ‘you’ the electorate.
Only when there is a President-elect can both sides talk about what the founding fathers were referring to: The unification of these united states and use the pronoun ‘We’.
Perhaps the outcome of #Election2016 is a wake up call to the realities of what western democracy in US terms really looks like.
240 years showing progress and stagnation in equal parts – depending on which side of the political spectrum you swing.
In a traditional system, be it democracy or dictatorship there are roles, responsibilities and procedures to governance.
Trump’s ascendence to ‘Leader of the Free World’ is merely a reflection of the current US system, people and procedures.
The US System
Over 70 million American’s FAILED to participate. That’s nearly 3 x the population of Australia, were disengaged from the process – one assumes for personal reasons.
Of those that did vote, exit polls indicate some lied and therefore skewed election ‘forecasting’. The effect? Trump’s ascendence appearing nothing short of catastrophic to those who form their opinions through the rumination of the popular press.
I confess my feminist and academic sensibilities were HIGHLY offended initially by the result.
I witnessed the diatribe of intelligent, articulate men and women in my personal newsfeed.
I couldn’t for the life of me work out how a man who hadn’t worked a day in public service ever, could beat out someone who has done more in public service both personally and professionally than anyone, ever.
48 hours later however, I’ve realised a few things:
When you introduce the ‘I’ pronoun into politics, you discount the importance of the public in preference of the personal. Subsequently missing the point entirely.
Politics is a mongrel sport and Trump played hard – not smart (although that is yet to be seen).
Republican Nominee for President , Mr Donald Trump has finished his grassroots ‘club’ game and now having been picked by the selectors is preparing himself for the international competition.
His locker room antics reflective of his place and campaign objectives at the time.
President-elect Trump, however, is a more measured, presence already.
The thing that is scary, yet brilliant is that no-one knows what a Trump Presidency is going to look like, let alone act.
It’s his unpredictability that is so unnerving – for EVERYONE… and therein lies its brilliance.
Systemic change takes time and eight years just wasn’t long enough for Obama to achieve this…although predictably he tried.
The Anomaly of Society and Change
Real societal change has only been achieved in the West through innovation.
That being said, even digital disruption is going to be a long road to haul.
The Roadshow Design
US Presidential Campaigns are a roadshow of personality designed to mobilise an apathetic public, to engage and legitimise political process.
The system design is based on tactics of persuasion and rhetoric, a solid foundation prone to perversion of message, intent and free will.
Distance does not provide immunity. In Australia, the leadership ‘Spills’ of the past five years were our version of the cult of the political personality.
The roadshow of Man Vs Woman, Entrepreneur Vs Public Servant for President of the United States was in the end, polarising.
So it is little surprise, the result has also proven to be.
What needs to be remembered is not what the result was, but how the Presidency evolves.
After all, there was a reason the Founding Fathers put in the checks and balances they did.
They knew no matter which side won, the President elect was always going to be human.
… and with that comes high emotion.