Posted Oct 4, 2020 at 14:31. Revised Jan 10, 2021 at 21:52.
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ChaosFarm UpdateThere is no indication yet at ChaosFarm of the coming Winter, but the tranquility here has been upset by events beyond the farm. COVID-19 has hit the President, but this could be a good thing. If the disease throws a good scare into him it could make him a much better President than he has been.
Originally posted Feb 12, 2017
This 2017 post is being republished in 2020 with minor updates and the 2016 comments of Michael Moore.
Your pants are on fire.
Your nose is as long
As a telephone wire!
Does this childish playground taunt apply to the President of the United States? Obviously, it does, but not exactly.
JD Nobody finds it interesting that so many people do not understand the game and the dynamics behind Donald Trump’s winning presidential campaign. An earlier ComplexityTraps post comparing Trump to FDR summarized the historical context preceding FDR’s presidency and its similarities to that of Donald Trump. Indeed, Trump’s campaign and post-election actions are right out of FDR’s playbook, as explained in comparing Trump to FDR.
FDR relentlessly vilified his opponents while perfecting the use of radio as a voter-communication tool. JFK later paved the way for Trump by perfecting the use of television as a campaign tool. Trump made the next significant campaigning innovation by perfecting the use of social media in political campaigns. A common thread in the Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Trump presidential campaigns is that they conveyed their messages in story form.
Recounting stories and myths while relaxing around an evening fire precedes civilization. It remains an integral part of life because it appeals to the human yearning to understand its place and role in the universe. Mythology recounts essential truths and lessons that are not literally true but tell spellbinding stories that often teach something.
Many, if not all, of the listeners around the fire understood that those stories and myths were, in fact, lies and that inconsistency, contradiction, and literal lies are all part of the storytelling process. These lies are sometimes whoppers told for entertainment and to make a point, not to maliciously mislead.
The Greek poet Homer produced the Iliad and the Odyssey. Both works are nothing but literal lies from cover to cover. 2500 years later, millions of people still look to those entertaining lies and recognize that they contained no malicious intent.
The introduction of modern technology and communications has caused traditional storytelling and mythology to become progressively less a part of life, resulting in people gradually becoming more dismissive of myths and stories as just useless lies.
The electronic communication devices that occupy our minds today cannot replace the life enrichment that fireside stories provide. These devices have created a gaping hole in people’s emotional needs. The listeners are looking for fulfillment from the human interactions that quench this thirst. Good fireside stories are part of this process.
The shared work and social interaction in farming have always produced healthy family and neighbor ties. Boasting, storytelling, and great mythology flourish in this environment. It is no surprise that the people who most understand this world are the ones who related best to Donald Trump’s sometimes crude, but folksy and mythopoetic style of campaigning. They clearly understood that his ideas were to be taken seriously but not literally. In contrast, those chased away by his campaigning style generally were rebuffed because they took him literally but not seriously.
Those who took Trump literally were horrified because they did not fully understand that storytelling and locker-room boasts are often nothing more than that. A good story involves heroes and villains, escaping danger, and heroes that survive the villains’ machinations. People enjoy good stories even when they know the storyline and the outcome.
Michael Moore understood
JD doesn’t have much use for Michael Moore. He is a crude, inarticulate, fat slob — but that is a different discussion from whether he is wrong. Moore saw clearly that the aphorism “its the economy, stupid” was believed only by the elite, who did not understand that people vote for what is important to them. What they see as important may or may not be in their best economic interests. See A Tale of Two Factories, which tells what is important and what is not.
Before the 2016 presidential election Moore had the following to say about Trump’s campaign pledges:
Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he’s saying the things to people who are hurting.
And that’s why every beaten-down nameless forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump. He is the human Molotov cocktail that they’ve been waiting for, the human hand grenade that they can legally throw into the system that stole their lives from them.
And on November eight, election day, although they lost their jobs, although they’ve been foreclosed on by the bank, next came the divorce, and now the wife and kids are gone, the cars been reposessed, they haven’t had a real vacation in years, they’re stuck with the shitty Obamacare Bronze Plan when you can’t even get a fucking percocet, they’ve essentially lost everything they have except one thing, the one thing that doesn’t cost them a cent and is guaranteed to them by the American Constitution: the right to vote.
They might be penniless. They might be homeless. They might be fucked over and fucked up. It doesn’t matter because it’s equalized on that day. A millionaire has the same number of votes as the person without a job: one. And there’s more of the former middle class than there are in the millionaire class.
So on November eight, the dispossessed will walk into the voting booth, be handed a ballot, close the curtain, and take that lever or felt pen or touch screen, and put a big fucking X in the box by the name of the man who has threatened to upend and overturn the very system that has ruined their lives: Donald J Trump.
They see that the elites who ruined their lives hate Trump. Corporate America hates Trump. Wall Street hates Trump. The career politicians hate Trump. The media hates Trump, after they loved him and created him and now hate him. Thank you, media.
The enemy of my enemy is who I’m voting for on November eight.
Yes, on November eight, you, Joe Blow, Steve Blow, Bob Blow, Billy Blow, Billy-Bob Blow, all the Blows get to blow up the whole goddamn system because it’s your right.
The Trump election is going to be the biggest fuck you ever recorded in human history.
West Allis thank you speech
Donald Trump’s post-election thank-you tour speech in West Allis, Wisconsin, is an excellent example of his ability to use storytelling to appeal to his audience. The first thing he did in that speech was to set a good mood by wishing the people in the audience Merry Christmas and thanking them for supporting him. Casting himself in the West Allis speech as a hero, Trump announced that the days of political correctness were over and assured the audience that it was once again OK to wish people Merry Christmas.
Moving on, Trump recounted the days immediately before and after the election. He created the suspense by allowing that Big, Bad Hillary might win! He thought he had her cornered, but did he? Would his fever pitch of speeches and rallies just before the election save the day? With the suspense building, there was more fear than hope. Some new hope came when learning that Big Bad Hillary had canceled her post-election fireworks display. She would not have done so unless her confidence in winning was ebbing away.
The story’s fear and tension reached a fever pitch late in Election Day afternoon. Loyal daughter Ivanka Trump called her father with the problematic message that the exit polls were looking bad and that there appeared to be little hope of winning. Could a level-headed hero turn this suspense into success, especially since the news media and polls had said there was almost no path to the 270 electoral votes needed to defeat the evil Hillary?
Was the fever pitch of speeches and rallies in the last three days of the campaign all for nothing? Trump recounted his memory of the large crowds at his rallies and speeches. Trump told Ivanka he could not believe that so many people would have turned out for his rallies if he were losing.
The vote counts would begin to arrive in a few hours, and the uncertainty would be over. When Florida’s critical results started coming in, the situation continued to look bad for Trump. However, most of the Florida Panhandle votes were still unreported. With those votes, Florida was won. Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes and victory was still open!
The story continued as attention turned to the must-win state of Ohio. The suspense lifted somewhat when it was clear that Ohio was being won with a large margin. Again, the path to 270 electoral votes was still open and looking good because the wide margin in Ohio bode well for the vote count from other states!
Focus then shifted to the “can’t-win” states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where the first vote counts looked better than expected. Trump might be able to win one or both of them! When both states joined his victory column, it became clear that Big Bad Hillary’s earlier taunts that Trump had no path to 270 electoral votes were now starting to look hollow. As the ballots piled up, it became ever more apparent that it was Big Bad Hillary who had no path to 270 electoral votes. The story was over, and with a heroic happy ending. Once again, Dewey had defeated Truman!
The audience, of course, knew the outcome of the story from the start. Hearing the hard-won victory story retold was nevertheless inspirational. People who focus solely on facts and logic are clueless that retelling a story such as this one is important even though everyone knows the story’s ending before the story is told. Were parts of the story lies? If so, nobody cared.
When Trump was leaving the auditorium, a reporter buttonholed Trump and asked him if he planned on prosecuting Hillary Clinton now that he was in a position to do so. Trump responded, “No. She has suffered enough.” Perhaps he understood that we do not want to establish the precedent that whoever wins an election gets to throw the loser in jail — or worse.
This post’s research turned up an unexpected Complexity Trap involving what President-Elect Trump said in his West Allis thank-you speech. One would think that it should have been easy to find a complete transcript of his West Allis remarks, but that was not the case. It was easy to find many snippets of comments from many different speeches, including the one in West Allis. All of the snippets were out-of-context quotes and, in many instances, carried distorted connotations due to the omitted text.
Once again, ever-increasing complexity devolves into a simplicity in which sound bites and snippets reduced the records of the West Allis speech to vacuous trivia. It even made the research for this article difficult.
/s/ JD Nobody, OC ’61.