One of the flash words of the 21st century is “authenticity.” Exhausted from living lives of quiet desperation in just trying to keep our financial and emotional heads above water, so many of us are reevaluating what truly matters and what quality of life really means.
This search for authenticity is not only personal. It’s political. We are also finished with misleading and deceptive politicians who will say anything, do anything, to retain power and line their own pockets to satisfy their egos and greed at the expense of the governed.
We hunger for leadership authenticity. The danger with hunger is that it can lead to acts of desperation.
In 2008 we were hungry for hope and change. In our neediness, we asked too few questions of leadership and, instead, swallowed whole the promise of fundamental transformation without asking precisely what was going to fundamentally change and what, exactly, it would look like after the change. As a result, many people now look around and ask, “What happened?” What happened was the inevitable outcome when form trumps substance.
No pun intended but the perfect segue none-the-less.
We’re in the run up to 2016 and Donald Trump is on fire. He has struck a nerve with people everywhere along the political spectrum. If you ask most of those who are energized by Trump what his policies and his solutions are, they cannot tell you. What they can tell you, and will tell you with passion, is that he is speaking about the things that matter to them. That he is a political outsider. That he gets the job done, whatever the job is.
Most political operatives and experts do not understand the phenomenon that is Donald Trump. They point to his inconsistencies. They point to his hubris. They point to his lack of substantive solutions. They point to his disrespect for women. The search goes on in an effort to discover the secret that is The Donald. But none will be found because there is no secret.
The success of Donald Trump is his authenticity. He is being authentically himself. There is no attempt to whitewash the hubris or past participation in corrupt government. He makes no excuse for supporting eminent domain, the confiscation of private property from one individual and giving of it to another individual for the profit of the latter (with The Donald being the latter). He makes no apologies for his wealth or garish display of same. He has no a connection to any power greater than himself. He is the first, the last and the always.
Our hunger for authenticity is making us blind to the fact that authenticity, like hope and change, simply isn’t enough. We are so desperate for someone who will not play the game that we are willing to overlook if there is yet a more dangerous game he is playing than the one we trying to escape.
Hannibal Lecter was authentic. Mother Theresa was authentic. You have to find out what the authenticity is all about, what it stands for, how it manifests itself, how it will impact your life and what it will become if unrestrained. Don’t kid yourself. If you think the Presidency of the United States is a position of immense power, you haven’t seen anything until you see an unchecked ego in that office such as is embodied in Donald Trump.
I thought that with 7+ years behind us of a President who promised to fundamentally transform the United States of America and did, that we would be smarter and more circumspect next time in falling for form over substance. I at least thought we’d ask more questions and demand more comprehensive answers.
But as I watch the groupie-like crowds showing up for Trump’s appearances and listen to otherwise rational conservative voices in media, I am coming to the realization that the emptiness and fraud of Obama’s “Hope and Change” might just have been a prelude to the emptiness and “authenticity” that is Donald Trump.
It makes me wonder if we will survive our hunger.