The New Normal

Trump’s successful bid for the presidency sets an ugly precedent
November 10th, 2016

Remember how you once hated upcoming elections because of those nasty attack ads that popped up while you were trying to spend a pleasant evening in front of the boob tube? You’d be mindlessly watching Modern Family, or The Big Bang Theory, when suddenly some candidate’s venom-laced ad would appear, labelling their opponent as untrustworthy and ineffective by spouting a long history of their worst policies, actions, and statements, all narrated by a voice that made them sound like the worst human being alive.

It was awful. Those of us with a heart, or who supported the victim, would dismiss these ads as mean-spirited, even if what they said was true. Because we knew that our guy was doing the same thing. And because we at least knew that both sides would eventually shake hands and pay lip service to getting along once the election was over. So we gritted our teeth, muted the volume, went into the kitchen, and made ourselves a sandwich.

Most of us, at one time or another, have questioned the efficacy of attack ads. But campaign heads lauded them, and stuck with them, claiming they worked. And you know what, something practical and competitive deep inside us sighed and reluctantly accepted the warped wisdom of that argument, while still wishing there was a more effective and less upsetting alternative. And so we tolerated the annoyance leading up to the election, praying it would soon be over.

Well, rest assured, those days of using the ugly truth as a weapon to knock down one’s opponent are over. In fact, truth itself is on the ropes. Because Donald Trump just proved that out-and-out lies work even better. Who needs facts and the truth when you can make shit up? Some people, he showed, can be better manipulated into supporting you by openly lying to them, making up ugly false facts about your opponent, negatively portraying the state of your constituency, insulting those who don’t support you, intimidating the less fortunate, and dismissing or threatening those who are different. One can now harness the worst aspects of human nature, and the most vulgar of human traits, and not only get away with it, but succeed.

The rules of the game changed on Tuesday night. Everything noble about human behaviour that we have clung to since our youth has just been thrown out the window. Opportunists who once employed a bit of restraint when seeking office – in fact when seeking any objective – have now been granted a license to use any underhanded and deplorable tactic conceivable to achieving their goals. And trust me, they will. The gloves are off. The rules of common decency, ethics, and fair play no longer apply.

For the time being, and possibly well into the future, this is the new normal. The best qualities of human civility and conduct have been discarded as naive and unnecessary. Instead, our worst traits have been proven to work. This will affect business. It will affect politics. It will affect diplomacy. It will affect how we treat each other. It may even affect how we raise our children. Intimidation and deceit, Trump proved, work better than truth and compassion.

In fact, as analysts fall back and study the effectiveness of this new approach to reaching the hearts and minds of voters, customers, clients, etc., those new tactics may get even slimier, dirtier, more underhanded, and ultimately more effective. A whole new marketing strategy has been discovered. Soon you won’t be able to tell the truth from the lies. It’s a no holds barred world out there now.

Talk about terrorism! America, you’ve just shown yourself to be the greatest terrorist threat on the planet, because you’ve singlehandedly destroyed integrity and honour. And you’ve elected a clearly unstable and untrustworthy man as your president. Who will ever be able to look up to you from now on? Who will ever be able to take you at your word again? Who will ever be able to believe a word your new president utters? And without trust, honour, and integrity, you will be perceived as a country of crazed zealots with nuclear weapons.

So thank you America. Thank you very much. You really have changed the world. And not for the better.

I’m just sayin’

Wow, I can’t believe how pessimistic that sounds. But, let’s face it, what happened on Tuesday night is almost as catastrophic as what happened on 9/11, in that everyday life as we know it has changed. And the effects of this disaster may eventually prove to be longer lasting, on a national scale, than the fear and paranoia that swept the nation after the twin tower attacks. Because 9/11 didn’t change what America stands for. But this election certainly has.

Do I believe what I wrote above? Unfortunately, I do. Opportunists are always looking for better ways and means to help them get their way, to help them achieve their goals. And Trump just gave them a workable strategy. So I believe we haven’t seen the end of such deplorable tactics. Nor, of course, the end of Trump. He’ll be around for at least another 4 years. And, if history is any example, for the next 8 years. Inconceivable!

I have to have faith that there is still honesty and integrity out there. I have to hope that those who didn’t vote for Trump will rise up and actively speak out on behalf of integrity, and justice, fairness, and compassion. And truth. And that, somehow, this will start a movement towards standing up for the better, more noble qualities of human nature. We can only hope.