The Adoration of Trump

Donald Trump’s ego is not news. However, what Trump revealed today definitely is. I hope America was watching and listening. I know I was.

leaky vessel

Trump spoke today in Bloomington, Illinois following several days of both organized, and individual, protests at his speeches in Chicago and Kansas City. The press has noted, and so it seems, that neither protesters, Trump behavior nor the facts have any negative effect upon his popularity with an increasingly adoring public.

Perhaps today’s revelation is a reason for pause.

During today’s stump speech, Trump made a noticeable shift from talking about himself as a solitary phenomenon to “us” and “we”…shifting to include his supporters into an identification of both him and them as a single entity on the same team. Under different circumstances, a therapist or advertising executive might conclude that this was a deliberately executed psychological or marketing ploy to manipulate the listener. But that’s not the cause. You had to catch another key moment in his speech to fully understand what precipitated that shift.

Elsewhere in the speech, in discussing his past use of what has been called inflammatory or crude use of language, Trump said he didn’t care if it wasn’t “smart.” In fact, he acknowledged that both Ivanka and Melania advised him that the use of such language is “not Presidential’” (on the word Presidential he mimicked and mocked them both by his tone of voice and facial expression).

However, what he said next was stunning! He said, as an aside, “We’ll have to get IQ’s tested to see….” Donald Trump publicly turned on his wife and daughter because they did not agree with him. He questioned their intelligence and implied that his own was superior.

This was an incredibly insightful and revealing moment. Yet it is totally consistent with what many third parties who have had past personal or professional dealings with Trump have said about him. He’s with you so long as you see it his way and so long as you fall in line with his intentions. The moment you no longer fit that description, you become his adversary…even his enemy… and he sets out to destroy you.

It’s unlikely that Trump will destroy his wife or daughter (although jettisoning wives is one version of just that and he has certainly done that in the past so Melania is hardly destruction-proof). As for his daughter, there are many ways for a father to devastate a daughter without all-out war. The withholding of love and approval is usually its own devastation.

What I took away from Trump’s speech today regarding the shift in his relationships, both with his followers and with his wife and daughter, is that it’s not about money at all for Trump. It’s about adoration and worship. It’s about being revered without question. Melania and Ivanka fell out of favor this week and by so doing, Trump needed to find a new source of unquestioning adoration. To that end, he turned to his followers. They stand just far enough away to only see the glitter without being able to see the dross.

The time will come when they, too, will question their idol’s behavior. When that occurs, so too will come their time of falling out and retribution.

The most pressing question they, and we as a nation, should be asking now is “What does Trump do when the crowd is no longer enough?” That time will surely come because you cannot fill a damaged vessel. Trump is such a vessel. The damage is the “leak” evidenced by his insatiable need to be worshiped. It’s why he has said he’s never done anything for which, as a Christian, he needs to seek forgiveness. He sees himself as perfected. He sees himself as a savior. The savior of the nation. What he is seeing is merely what he wants to see. He is a false savior and an emotionally needy man.

The moment of truth is upon us. What matters now is not what Trump is seeing. What matters now is what are we willing to overlook?



Clear Thinking

In my early twenties I use to spend way too much time at a local bar since, at the time, my roommate owned it.  After work,we’d spend our time talking and drinking the night away.  He had a game that he liked to play whereby he would predict what people would drink. Since he spent so much time at it, he became an expert in human behavior via what they ordered to drink. It was great fun to watch and I always got a laugh out of it.

Our Bias

For example, if someone came in for a beer, my friend could predict which beer they would pick. It almost became eerie how good he was at it.  I finally asked him to give me his drink picking prowess. He said, “I look at who the advertisers target and then I can tell what those types will order. I never believed those stupid commercials worked but I know now that they do.” Given that the bar was full of mostly twenty somethings, and their biases not yet or less formed, the advertisements seemed to have a greater effect on their opinions.

Here are some of the drinks and the character traits of the people that ordered them:

  • Johnny Walker Black whiskey was ordered by brooding types.
  • Heineken beers were ordered by successful yuppies.
  • White Russians were ordered by young women from Long Island.
  • Budweisers were ordered by the twenty something college sporty type.
  • Tequila was ordered after three or four drinks by young urban professionals who wanted to drink to excess.

As human beings, we all understand the notion of free will. Yet, here were a group of people basing their drink orders on the commercials that ran on T.V.  My friend’s predictive powers got me to thinking about the whole notion of advertising and the many ways we are subtly influenced.

Advertisers spend billions of dollars a year on advertising because they know it works. The biggest payday for the year in advertising is the Superbowl because of the sheer number of people who tune in. Yet, these same people (a/k/a consumers) look at the commercials…laugh… and think none of it has any impact upon them personally.

Naturally, we all think we’re immune to the sway and power of the media. We think it can only affect “them” and never us; but, I’m not so sure. Robert Cialdini, in his famous book called Influence, documented the many subtle, and not so subtle, ways we can all be influenced. One of his most famous stories is about the Hare Krishnas and their ability to raise money. One day, at the airport, he noticed Hare Krishna followers picking up flowers from the garbage and giving them to people.  The followers would ask travelers to take a pamphlet and a flower. Most of the travelers didn’t want the flower or the flyer, but the Hare Krishnas were insistent they take the flower as a gift. The gift of the flower was a way to create an obligation for the other party, thereby causing the receiver of the gift to give a donation. Most of the travelers upon receiving the gift would throw it away just a few yards down the terminal. That’s where the Hare Krishnas would take those same flowers out of the bin and start the process all over again. The Hare Krishnas knew the people did not want flyers or flowers; but, they knew the small gift of the flower would bring them money.

I believe Cialdini’s writings prompted Wall Street to change many of the industry’s norms. Buy side accounts (mutual funds) today no longer accept any gifts, no matter what the size from sell side accounts. They know any gift received implies an obligation upon the other party. Asset managers need to make decisions based on the best investments available, not one based upon an indebtedness. Cialdini’s main point in “Influence,” and on advertising in general,  is that there are subtle pulls on our psyche all day long that influence us in ways not readily perceived.

I struggled with this in my own life when I studied at length with a linguist. A linguist is someone who deconstructs your language so that you take ownership of the words and language that you use. The linguist I worked with focused on my sentence structure and my choice of words. Most of my bad habits stemmed from the fact that I was not conscious of the words I was using. I had absorbed most of my language structure from my parents, as we all do. However, in order for me to fully own my narrative, I had to break those habits.

I trained with her once a week for three years. During that time, it was not unusual for me to measure out each word I spoke so that my “new language” became part of my new persona. The results during that time were phenomenal! My sales sky rocketed. The point is that had I not taken ownership for the language I used, I would have been unknowingly influenced for the rest of my life by the language my parents had used. I would have been following a script given me… all the while not fully understanding what had occurred.

Gene Simmons, the lead front man for the rock group Kiss, changed his legal name as a way to take ownership of his life. His parents had divorced when he was a child and he grew up in poverty. He discussed at length, in his books and writing, the importance of needing to forge his identity lest outside influences shape him. He carefully chose each part of his life and what he wanted out of it. He changed his name to reject that image of  a poor, unwanted child and to create the image of a wealthy rock star. Although I am not suggesting we need to change our names, it is instructive to see the lengths Gene Simmons went to mold the life and image he wanted and reject outside influences.

The only way to forge and own are identities is to continually chose who we want to be. Given the way the media and advertisers manipulate, lie and distort the truth…it is more imperative than ever to take ownership and decide who want to be and what we think.  The alternative is that we end up on the dumping end of the whims of advertisers and psychological tricksters, forever manipulating us with their jedi machinations.

To be truly alive and conscious is to realize we are susceptible to, and influenced by, what we “consume.” With media present in every aspect of our waking lives, the old adage of “garbage in/garbage has never been more apt.  So be careful what you watch, who you listen to and what you read.

Its all grist for your mill but remember: it’s your mill and you get to sift out what goes and decide what does not.


Rights For All: Equals Rights For None

In fiance we use to joke how all clients wanted insurance on their investments. However, in a world where everything gets insured nothing can be. For example in insurance, people essentially pool their resources together so that when one person gets their car stolen, there has been enough paid in premiums by the total number of participants in the pool to pay for the new car.  Its apparent that if all the insurance owners all had their cars stolen on the same day, there would not be enough in that pool to cover everyone’s loss. In fact, the insurance company would be out of business.

alone-in-crowdWe are experiencing this principle here in the U.S. with an ever expanding definition of rights. Instead of excepting the premise “that all men are created equal” it seems that every class of citizen needs a special class of protection of its rights. We began with homosexual, then further expanded to include gay and lesbian, then bisexual, transsexual, transgender (don’t ask me the difference because I don’t know), transvestite… and the list goes on. The question is “Where does it end?”

To me this is madness. It is one thing to be free to express ones sexuality in the bedroom and not to be harassed for it. Its quite another to be given special rights based upon your sex acts.

With these new rights enhanced by the litigious Nation in which we live…heaven forbid you cross the “gay mafia.” Catholic orphanages are shutting down all over the US because… well…they discriminate. Based on Catholic teaching, orphanages try to place children with married  couples– even a married couple has to be defined now (1 man and 1 woman). Because the orphanages won’t place children with gay couples, the gay mafia and their minions of lawyers are shutting down catholic charities. In trying to look out for our most vulnerable members of society, it seems more  important to make sure the gay community is placated. We have thousands of years of data from a multitude of cultures that a child does best with one woman and one man in the household. But now we have decided to throw out this common sense again to placate the gay community. So, instead of having gay couples adopt children from other orphanages and leaving the Catholic orphanages to their belief, the gay community demands all resistance be annihilated ( see story) and the Catholic charities destroyed in the process.

This is where the downfall begins.  Previously, Catholic orphanages had rights based on the First Amendment of the Constitution which establishes the free exercise of religion for all citizens. Instead of the courts enforcing the law, thus allowing the Catholic charities to proceed in adoption placement consistent with their religious beliefs, the opposite is now occurring. It appears that in 2014 we have new rights extended to the gay community that now supersede those rights guaranteed in the First Amendment.

That is the slippery slope of change and how it begins. As we create more and more minorities and sub-classes of human behavior, more and more laws need to be written. In the process of making every sub-group special, we end up annihilating the rights of all people. Its here that I’ll restate my original premise: When everybody has insurance no one has insurance. When everyone has special rights no one has rights.

The French celebrate Bastille Day. It was a day when a thousand armed Parisians stormed the Bastille, savagely murdered a half-dozen guards, defaced their corpses and stuck their heads on pikes. The founders of the French Revolution all died violently killed by the violence they themselves spawned. Ultimately, those Founders were not deemed pure enough, holy enough and so were killed.

The same fate awaits us here at home as we erode and destroy the rights granted us in our Constitution. In the end, there are never enough laws for a corrupt society. Those who pervert the system and inflame the uprising for the sake of special status, those who cry Social Justice as they advance, will inevitably be the victims of the monster they themselves created.


Steve Clark