It is very interesting to note a change in perception. When Donald Trump declared his presidential ambitions, it did not surprise anybody. Trump has a boisterous and headline-grabbing reputation. He also has loads of money. The political establishment braced itself for a Trump cameo. They felt Trump would create a splash, act as the curtain-raiser for the presidential election season and bow out of the race. After all, Trump is an outsider with no experience in politics. He has a me-centred approach that politicians need to hide. If you listen to Trump speak, you can make out that far from hiding it, he flaunts the me-centred approach. Trump goes for broke and is a deeply divisive, polarizing and incendiary figure.
And yet, there he is, very much closer to the republican nomination. And now, everybody is thinking, how can he still be around. This, after every possible outrageous action that would have buried another presidential hopeful. Even if he doesn’t win from here on, his progress so far merits serious introspection. How has Trump reached so far?
In politics, absurdity is not a handicap.
– Napoleon Bonaparte
Trump, by design or otherwise, has used absurdity as his trump-card. What is the meaning of the word, absurd? To be absurd is to be wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate. Trump has been the role-model. Of course, to his supporters, he is decisively reasonable, logical and perfect. All of Trump’s supporters share a mindspace within which all the dots of the Trump world-view already exist. Trump’s emergence has helped them connect the dots and rally around their one leader that America needs.
What is this mindspace and world-view I refer to? This world-view sees everything in black and white. Heroes and villians, Right and Wrong, Good and bad; everything that matters can be neatly slotted in one category or the other. People who hold this world-view believe they have it all figured out. They keep things simple and this makes them clear on the solutions to everything, be it the environment,terrorism, jobs-creation or immigration.
Is not the solution of stopping all Muslims from visiting the United States so clear and specific? Yes, it is. And unspeakably absurd. But, a worldview that has attributed a singular cause to a complex phenomenon – in this case, terror – sees this solution as reasonable, logical, and perfect. The solution is simplistic ; dumbed down to appeal to the faithfuls. And if carried out, it will lead to equally absurd, deeply divisive and radical responses. The challenge of the absurd is you counter it with reason. And without reason, what do you have to work with? You are reduced to being animals governed by instincts and gut-reactions. This is certainly not how we evolved as a civilization.
In Trump, his supporters see all the reason that the world needs! He is decisive because he decides only between black and white. The leader who knows the full range of colours has to struggle in making the choice. But ultimately, this leader is making a real choice from the available options, sometimes by even mixing the colours. The colours represent the real complexity of the world we live in.
Trump has reached so far because there are many people who do not want to accept how complex the world is. The leaders and institutions who are navigating this complexity are struggling. The results are not forthcoming. When a leader comes along who says he can do it all, it is a shot in the arm for those who look down upon the present leaders.At last, the saviour has come. Somebody who understands the world just as I do!
What is the parallel example of an absurdity in business? An absurdity that we all see as reasonable, logical, and perfect. There are many aburdities to be sure. But the one I choose to sign off with is this one : we must achieve a quarterly profit no matter what. Of course, people do not look at it as an absurdity. To go all out for profit is reasonable, logical, and perfect. What say?!