I’m a psychologist. I’m old, experienced and, of course, interested in human behavior. I’m tired of the ‘he said, she said’ (quite literally) arguments around Hillary and Donald. For every juicy sound bite trotted out to vilify one, an opposite and very often equally shocking tidbit surfaces about the other. Politicians are not expected to tell the truth. They’re expected to spin, cajole, pander and otherwise offer a ‘platform’ intended to cultivate a base of support that will get them into office. We expect them to deny or rationalize their ‘crimes and misdemeanors’ (“I am not a crook”. . . quoth Richard Milhous Nixon). They are expected to lie.
And so ‘the Donald’ must be given full marks for doing this slightly better — dramatically, if one surveys the electoral college result — than his opponent. What he did stunningly better was to know and understand his target market. And what Hillary failed to get was that her gender, her knowledge and experience, her cool, unflappable intellect, her egalitarian platform, and her, by comparison, minor transgressions could not overcome her image as an elite and aloof gal. At core, she failed to connect. And Donald did.
Trump won on a mobilization of a broad (and hitherto, untapped) base that understood what he said (and did) — and didn’t care. On a base that easily grasped his crude, rude style, his non-sequiturs, his fact-less, sweeping, outrageous and unsupportable claims. He was talking their language. The over-the-fence, in-the-bar, bowling alley or duck blind chatter that this base not only understood, but lived. Nothing nuanced or subtle here. Just plain, old-fashioned bullshit. Lots of it. Piled higher and deeper (as the acronym PhD, somewhat ironically expands to). For the first time this base had a real option, someone they could identify with. They were not being asked to make a choice between two, largely inaccessible, lofty options. And so they voted. . . and voted. . . and voted as never before. A liar, a braggart, a philanderer, a sexist, an abuser — who cares. We understand his message. So the man that made his fortune as much by cunning as intellect — street smarts generally trump (oops) wisdom — has done it again.