The Odd Child
This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on September 20, 2017.
Every culture I know has in its arsenal of jokes, a joke about a kid, usually male, who asks questions that are not to be asked or gives answers that are not to be given in a civilized society.
That is why we laugh.
But jokes are not too far from reality. They are funny because they are an exaggeration of reality. These kids exist. They actually enjoy causing trouble. They will do or say anything to be noticed, to be the center of attention. They are outrageous.
And they grow up and do not change. They get elected to be the President of the United States. What other explanation can you give that Trump, out of the blue, announces that maybe the United States should be involved in a military operation in Venezuela? On top of threatening North Korea. On top of annoying Mexico and Australia.
He tweets something that keeps him in the news all the time. Open newspapers and measure how much space is allocated to Trump. Listen to the news. Now with the flood in Houston and the hurricane in Florida, this might have subsided, but up to then, he was always in the news. He basically is the best thing that could have happened to the media. He provides continuous, outrageous content. He revived the news. What would the media do without him?
How did it happen that such an outrageous kid, although over seventy years old, got elected?
We live in a society which is media-intensive, and brand recognition works wonders.
I was watching a TV show. In it, they went into the streets and interviewed people. “North Korea has finally succeeded in developing a hydrogen bomb. They dreamed of it and worked hard for it and succeeded. Would you like to congratulate North Korea?” They all did. These were not some homeless people. They were dressed well. College-aged.
Years ago, they did the same “research” and told people that Obama was a communist and believed in making America communist. That he had that plan. Would you support him in this effort? Many said yes. They had no idea what communist meant. They just wanted to support Obama without knowing what he stood for.
Years ago, I was dating a young woman. She had a master’s degree from UCLA in social work. I took her to Brazil. As we were walking the promenade of the Copacabana, I asked her if she knew who designed the walkway of circular stones. She said no. I told her it was the grandson of Karl Marx, who was an architect and lived in Rio. “Oh,” she said, “that’s the one who wrote Mein Kampf.”
Years ago, I was introduced by a top executive to his company where I was to lecture. He introduced me as one who consults with the government of Mesopotamia. (I was consulting with Macedonia.)
These are the people that vote. And if someone can get recognition by being outrageous and making promises without going into the actual plans of how they will be implemented, these are the people who will elect him because they recognize his name and believe in his slogans.
Is democracy a sick system?
Do we need to re-engineer the system?