One of the advantages of living in Sitges is I occasionally have coffee with my friend and colleague Paddy Miller at a restaurant overlooking the sea. Paddy, who was never a fan of Barack Obama, could not hide his admiration for how Donald Trump managed to upset the American political system starting with the Republican Party and actually defeating Hilary Rodham Clinton. This is not to say that he is a Trump supporter, just that he thought he had disrupted the process.
He also told me about a post he had written on LinkedIn which compared business model innovation with the act of planning an intricate bank robbery or heist like the kind you see in Hollywood movies.
Since the election and last week’s inauguration people constantly ask me about my opinion about Trump’s win and his crazy policy proposals and cabinet picks and I must admit I have not been following the news cycle as closely as I should because it is frankly painful, embarrassing, and alarming. As I wrote in a post a few weeks ago, it is up to the U.S. Senate and other American institutions to use the checks and balances of the system to keep Trump in line. After talking to Paddy, I think I finally found the right metaphor to talk about what Trump and his alt right advisors managed to do.
My problem with any kind of admiration for what Trump achieved is that he won the election by playing on people’s fears and the worst aspects of the American character. Encouraging hatred against racial and religious groups and pushing back against everything the country has achieved in terms of treating all people with dignity and respect deserves no admiration – only fierce and constant condemnation such as that shown by the demonstrations attended by women, men and even families across the country this weekend.
Like criminals robbing a bank or a train, Trump’s aides and supporters analyzed the weaknesses in the political system and brought it down. Stephen Bannon, the apparent brains of the gang, urged the candidate to bring out the worst in his supporters and to get out the vote by telling them that it was “rigged”. They systematically planted fake news on social media so that single issue people of good faith would feel that they had no choice but to support Trump as Ms. Clinton would make abortion even easier, take away everyone’s guns, or ship more jobs off to low cost countries.
One of the characteristics of criminals is that they will not hesitate to use force and even kill if they are forced to do so by circumstances. They simply are not bound by the moral compass that makes most of us pause and think about the consequences of our actions or the relationship between ends and means.
Criminals may be smart and they may manage to crack the vault and get away with the loot. The thing is that in the end, they usually get caught and go to jail.
Not over yet
My use of the word heist is still, at this point in time, metaphorical as I think it captures the moral depravity of the man who has become President of the United States and was willing to do and say anything to get that job. Personal attacks, photos of Heidi Cruz, lies about the Clintons and anything else, all of this was just a reality T.V. show for Trump.
If, over the next few months, the FBI’s investigations into links with Russia and possible tampering with the voting machines in key states were to be proven, then the metaphor will cut even closer to home and Trump will be lawfully impeached. My guess is that Mike Pence had nothing to do with any illegal activity if it did, in fact, go on and while I disagree with the former Governor of Indiana on a number of issues, I don’t think he is bereft of a moral compass.