Trump won. Watch them gloat.
(Visit: Wall Street Playboys)
The authors of the Wall Street Playboys announced their prediction at the beginning of this year when most people were doubting a Trump win. A Trump presidency seemed remote and incredible. Now, those who predicted this early have been rightly vindicated. Kudoz.
Their reasoning was quite simple. They summed it up in this recent post: “This election cycle has proven once again that people are not rational creatures, emotion drives all decision making . . .” Too true. Mythos. The winner was the candidate who told the most compelling story. That was Trump.
Many of us are in large agreement with the Wall Street Playboys. As Karen Shaw pointed out this week, “Donald Trump is a great salesman.” (Visit: A post Trump World.)
All of that said, I do not begrudge the authors of that blog. I do not begrudge Donald Trump. The authors of the blog make use of some questionable sales tactics. Donald Trump, ditto. It’s all well and good to blame the individuals marketing the product, but even if we could eliminate both of the above there would be others available to take their place. The real problem is the Story.
How Trump won: The Story
The Story drove the whole election. The Story drives everything.
Hillary Clinton was different from Donald Trump. She was corrupt in her own way. Still, she makes use of the same phenomenon. She wins by emotion, not reason. More appropriately, she wins by the story. “Story” is a better word. Sometimes the phenomenon is not overtly emotional.
Consider the Clinton emails. Consider the media “normalisation” of Donald Trump. Both of these are problems not because of emotion, but because of the misdirection of emotion. Anyone exposed peripherally to the protocols the government uses to protect classified information knows immediately what is wrong with the emails. Anyone born in the modern world can tell why Trump is off-putting. Nevertheless, the Left adapted to the emails almost immediately. Now the media is pushing to adapt to Trump. It’s all about the story people want to believe. If we are uncomfortable with either person, but we need to maintain party loyalty or remain hopeful about the future, any form of doubt can be a blessing.
I agree with the idea that the dystopian view of a Donald Trump presidency will help push society towards change. However, I do not believe it will be enough. Why? Well, the Story plays a part in this as well.
I do not think the “normalisation” of Donald Trump will be all that difficult to pull off. Most people are comfortable with the idea that candidates routinely fail to keep their promises. Most are, at least unconsciously, willing to might that Donald Trump might just lack a filter. Before the election, the Left told themselves the story that they were valiantly fending off the Huns. The horror of Trump could not be mitigated in their minds, because the story would not allow for it. Instead, any form of mitigation was likely just pushed into their subconscious. Now it is resurfacing. There is a need for a new story. Dystopia is not so attractive, so they adapt.
We should also consider that Clinton was “normalised” from day one. Even those who condemned her were, nevertheless, familiar with her flaws. This fact alone suggests that Trump will be able to get away with less. While the media tries to normalise him, they will still be compelled to maintain some consistency with their earlier narrative. Great salesman that he is, Trump adapts to his audience. First it was the impassioned primary voters. Next it was the most likely voters for the general election. Now it is the population as a whole. For this reason, I am not entirely convinced that Trump’s presidency will be dramatic enough to spark a revolution.
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The Trump Card: Where Does the Story Come From?
Trump merely took advantage of the power of story-telling. Ditto Clinton. There will always be someone available to abuse public sentiment. There will always be the salesmen. There will always be someone claiming “this one weird diabetes trick has doctors horrified.” The supply reflects the demand. The supply reflects the story people want to hear.
People want to believe they are part of a “sacred” cause.
People want to believe what their hero did was OK.
People want to believe that a loss is not fatal.
People want to believe stuff. People want to hang onto a narrative. The problem is people. The problem is us. It is not Trump. It is not Clinton. It is not the Wall Street Playboys.
What is the Solution to the story? Can we prevent another Trump win?
The solution, I believe, is cyclical. Change the demand, the supply adapts. Change the supply, the demand adapts albeit in increments. If story-telling controls the ballot box, we will continue to see candidates who abuse this fact. As long as candidates continue to abuse it, people will generally give into which ever story suits them best. The solution should target both sides.
I drafted the following simple proposal. Most points are relatively inoffensive, but could have drastic results. The idea on the demand side is to improve the population’s ability to think around the stories. On the supply side, it is to decrease the ability to manipulate stories.
On the supply side:
-Demand release of tax returns. Actually, demand that any requested information be released so long as it does not open a candidate up to identity theft. Ditto Wall Street speeches.
-100% inheritance tax. The more wealth reflects a person’s merit, the more likely the wealthy people who have the opportunity to run for public office will hold merit.
On the demand side:
-Comparative religion in schools. Religion is a pernicious source of false narratives. It drives every American election. Many religious people are all but forced, as a matter of conscience, to accept any and all ideas of the Right. Comparative religion is probably the most inoffensive way of combating this problem in the short term.
-Advocate for mental training in schools and in regular life of the type I talk about here. Abstractions and narratives are inextricable linked. Brain training is entirely inoffensive, but it may indirectly target the phenomena of overly abstract thinking and the entrenched (often narrative based) beliefs that result.
-Learn, understand and spread Ontological Mathematics. The better we all understand the truth of who we are, where we came from and where we are going, the better our narratives will fit reality. This can be approached from an entirely apolitical standpoint and still have drastic political results long term.
Again, the idea is to both improve the population’s ability to think around the stories and decrease the manipulators’ ability to manipulate the stories. Considering this, feel free to suggest additional proposals.
The results would have a synergistic effect. The more transparent the supply becomes, the more the people are forced to think. The better the people think, the more transparent the supply is forced to become.
This process is already in effect. It is simply a matter of encouraging it to accelerate.
Our Trump Card: A Bonus Benefit
I have suggested elsewhere that inflation may be driven the most strongly by wealth at the top (visit “gentrification on a grand scale”). This is the real problem with income inequality. It isn’t because it is “unfair”. It is because it indirectly makes the poor poorer even if their bank balances don’t change. A major cause of income disparity, however, is easily identifiable. Marketing. Those who know how to manipulate the Story (and choose to do so) have the ability to “inflate” their own merit and the merit of whatever they have on offer. The result is that certain forms of production result in “wealth creation” that does not reflect the actual value added. Therefore, the rich get richer in a manner that is disproportional to economic growth. If they simply grew with the economy, it wouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem. The Story, however, allows them to grow outside of the boundaries that society can support. As a result, society must make sacrifices to support them. All because of the power of the Story.
The above proposals target the power of the story. Weaken it’s power and wealth distribution becomes more objective. Weaken the market for skin creams, addiction treatment, Pokemon, “spiritual” literature, what have you . . . These products benefit heavily from the Story. They benefit from narratives. They are ripe for abuse. It would be problematic to ban them, but if society improves the demand will lessen.
Jason Calhoughny writing for the Apollo Institute of Reason AIR Review©