The United States of Reality?

Scrolling through Twitter ignite a strange mix of feeling quite humored and scared shitless at the same time, as the U.S. presidential election seems to turn into a surrealistic and populistic reality show 😖

The gap between frustrated voters and the establishment expanded and took a turn for the worse as we (too) slowly started realizing that Trump’s candidature was actually for real, not a joke. A guy with superb capabilities to “Woo” people through nailing viewers to the screen with hardcore statements that makes us laugh and feel somewhat ashamed of his bullying skills at the same  time.

What started out as a fun way to kill an hour or two in the couch, suddenly became serious as Trump took his egotrip to the next level; by the help of existing fans as well as spin-doctors he re-targeted his focus and ability to woo potential buyers from business clients and high-end markets over to a huge group of frustrated voters by using well proven mechanisms of creating external enemies to blaim and fight. Using the same logics that makes girls buy a Prada using MasterCard; the differentiation of “us” and “them”. The ultimate sales pitch; a world of change – fixing everything that’s wrong in the blink of an eye! 

Just overthrow the existing systems, and trust one man to be our savior. Never mind his aversion against a number of groups in the society, or the complete disregard of moral and legal practice conducting business. Trump is something different – and Americans tend to look for the opposite of the sitting president when placing their votes. This time, the contrast is extreme – perfectly illustrating the gap between real life and reality show.

Back home, this should serve as an important reminder of what can happen when society becomes fractionized due to huge differences between rich & poor, access to basic services and education, and when a growing part of the population don’t get to take part in the economical growth enjoyed by the fortunate ones. 

Chinese leaders understood decades ago that stability and control in a modern world hangs on a country’s government to create a certain belief among its inhabitants that things will gradually change for the better. Proving that through small symbolic actions and reforms that secure basic needs, remove big social problems (efforts on renewables ref to asthma and air quality as example), and by best possibly include as big a portion as possible of its population in its development. So maybe we have something to learn? 

It’s dangerous for a country when growing groups of its people feel cut off from prosperity and lose hope for a better future. We easily become more responsive and open for populistic messages that brings a promise for “easy” solutions and massive change.

A great salesman can sell sand in Sahara. But he might not be the right guy to lead an organization’s (nor country!) quest for transformative change. The specific sales “combat” strategy of securing quick deals by hiding drawbacks in very small writing, or utilizing your size & power benefit to screw over your counterpart, hardly builds trust in the long run. So while you can generate quick and solid earnings, your reputation someday catches up with you. Loss of reputation, trust or integrity is probably something Trump can live with as a businessman. But it’s not something the U.S. can live with as a country.

As individuals we don’t necessarily choose the products we buy based on their actual qualities and performance; but just as often for the perceived brand qualities, stories and emotional effect we relate them to. At least until we experience that the brand really deviates from its promise and that different wrapping often covers the same “shit”. 

And it seems this is the case with Trump. He has created such a brand name that we instantly associate him more to the storytelling than to the performance. It’s so tempting to believe that a world of problems can be solved by a miracle recipe rather than through loads of hard work and patience.

Should #TheApprentice win and screw up, however, the damage not only to the Americans, but to the global stability, seems fatal. History is full of examples of frustrated voters democratically electing leaders who later evolved into tyrants; Mugabe, Marcos and the extreme one; Hitler… 

Let’s hope sensibility will prevail so we don’t create another despot!

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