There was no better-suited stage to reflect just how deep America’s collective smarts, dignity, self-pride and morality had sunk than Presidential Campaign 2016. United States elections, especially presidential elections, once were a cherished tradition. They were ripe with optimism that our next leaders would reflect in principle and practice the moral, freedom-loving tenets on which the country was founded. They increasingly served as a check on America’s head, heart and soul. We are taught that we create the leaders we elect. We reflect ourselves in them. We grade our knowledge about issues that affect us by the leaders we choose. We set the bar for the important abstracts in life — our values, sense of wrong and right, and expectations for what living a quality life means — by the leaders we nurture and ultimately empower. John Adams famously said: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessing on this house (the White House) and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof!” The second president’s words are a sad reminder of how distant and lost we’ve become from that ideal… the ideal that leaders of courage, moral grounding and intelligence would be compelled to the highest office by an endearing populace who not only espoused those values but lived by them as well. We can spend thousands of words describing the dynamics that have strayed us so far from our founding fathers’ ideals, especially as they relate to leaders we elect. But by any measure — from the state of our collective mental, physical and spiritual health to our evaporated role as the world’s moral, political and economic leader — America’s decline reflects the leaders it keeps empowering and its willingness to disengage from, instead of fight, the lunacy they bring us. As American economist Mark Skousen once said, “We will never change our political leaders until we change the people who elect them.” And what better stage to reflect America’s decline than one of our most cherished institutions — a presidential election, when the leader who best mirrors our values, desires and needs is throned.
Two months before master TV-reality star Donald Trump entered the presidential race, global forecaster Gerald Celente identified — and even trademarked — the trend that was about to fully erupt. Celente’s Trends Research Institute coined the phrase the Presidential Reality Show®, and wrote about it extensively, as a mirror image of what America had become. The Spring 2015 edition of the Trends Journal screamed: “Liars, cowards, freaks and fools… Welcome to the Presidential Reality Show®.” Written two months before Donald Trump entered the race, we forecast: “Billions will be spent on lies, deceptions, hollow slogans and gutless stances… Americans will go to the polls to cast ballots for the lesser of two evils to lead the greatest nation of ‘exceptionals’ to more economic ruin and endless war.” Indeed, as voters went to the polls on Nov. 8, 2016, candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton shared something: They had historically low approval ratings. In fact, a CNN exit poll on Election Day showed Trump with a 64 percent untrustworthy rating and Clinton with 61 percent.
MINDLESS, BRAINWASHED, CLUELESS
The Urban Dictionary describes reality TV as “…Programming which lacks any redeeming social, intellectual or moral value but is nonetheless poignant in a macabre way due to the reflection it offers of a rapidly declining western culture. Primarily watched by mindless, brainwashed Americans who are long since bereft of any intelligent thought or recognizable human values (greed and self-interest notwithstanding).” We described the Presidential Reality Show as “… the Greatest Freak Show on Earth: the 2016 race for the White House, brought to you by those masters of propaganda, the mainstream media… It’s a red-white-and-blue bonanza of inanity and insanity, featuring the blood-drenched “leaders” of the Republican and Democratic Gangs: the political Crips and Bloods who steal our money in the name of “too big to fail,” tax breaks, loan guarantees, etc., and murder millions in the name of freedom and democracy” (Trends Monthly, December 2015). And throughout election season last year, showcase episodes of the Presidential Reality Show® were on display for all the world to gauge just how far our political discourse has sunk. In a different, more thoughtful and morally grounded time in America’s history, those game-show spectacles, passed off to the public as debates, never would have happened. The prize-fight-like promos, the flashy staging, the lights, the forced drama… they weren’t debates. They were “Beat the Clock,” TV game shows. Contestants had up to 90 seconds to answer each question, one minute for each follow-up response, and if a candidate went over their allotted time, a bell would go off. It not only sounds like a game show, it is a game show.
HOW WE GOT HERE
How did America arrive at this place? How did a once-great nation decline in virtually every area — our health, finances, art and culture, politics and self-dignity — that determines quality of life? For nearly four decades, the Trends Research Institute has tracked trends based on facts. We forecast trends based not on pre-existing notions of what the facts are, but on hard evidence, gathered and analyzed over time, to determine with unmatched precision what comes next. And our Globalnomic® methodology demonstrated repeatedly, especially during the Obama years, how lying, deception and greed at the top contaminated the very body and soul of a nation. Our motto, “think for yourself,” has largely been lost in a culture force-fed corporatized news. Mainstream-media coverage has been predictably stuck in Presidential Reality Show® mode. From spewing an endless stream of anti-Russian propaganda, to chasing down meaningless Trump tweets, to trumping up the Charlottesville rally of a small fringe of white supremacists into a national racist moment, the news cycle isn’t driven by actual news. It’s driven by masked agendas and blatant biases.
THOSE CORPORATE MEDIA JOHNS
The six corporations that own, run and manipulate 90 percent of the media landscape plaster the same predictable “expert” voices and party hacks in coverage. Those paid contributors repeat the same viewpoints designed to drive audience and advertising bottom-line preferences of corporate Johns and puppeteers. “Issues of life and death, geopolitical turmoil, social unrest, the economic future of the nation, foreign policy, the never-ending War on Terror… are all being debased to conform to imbecilic, sound-bite content that drives big bucks from advertisers for commercials on the Presidential Reality Show®,” Celente said. The result? Much of America has stopped listening to facts. This divided nation either mindlessly follows the dictates of their political parties or simply fully disengages from dialogue or action that requires thinking for yourself. Today, two-thirds of Americans are asking themselves how the hell we elected Trump president. How did so many supposedly level-headed, moderate voters in Rust Belt states and elsewhere place their votes — and hopes for real, dynamic change — in the lap of Trump? Look in the mirror, America. For generations, and worsening over time, the populace followed ideologies and propaganda of their political party’s preferences and practices — all at the expense of thinking for themselves. Instead of speaking out forcefully and relentlessly against lying, deceptive leaders that take us to wars that cost millions of lives and trillions of your dollars, and whose policies have systematically eradicated the middle class, either stay quiet or seek refuge in media that mirror their political preferences. Many search for a different, deeper understanding of how we arrived at this state. Many especially wonder what could turn us around.
THE SHADOW KNOWS
Perhaps in the deep recesses of what is known as depth psychology we find some answers, a larger context, for understanding America’s decline and the rise of the Presidential Reality Show. The concept of the Shadow, created by the great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, provides insights into an America struggling to think for itself. In particular, for liberals, Trump has become their Shadow. The Shadow is an unconscious component of our personalities that stores the ugly, dark stuff we can’t face in waking reality. As individuals, groups of people, organizations, countries and, of course, political parties reject facing the ugly, hard truth staring them in the face long enough, the more powerful and destructive their Shadow becomes. Eventually, you display your failure to accept the truth. You become uncharacteristically angry, emotional, illogical and uncentered. Under President Barack Obama, liberal Democrats stood silent and numb for eight years. Where were they when, under Obama’s watch, 95 percent of wealth gained in the US went to the 1 percent, and 51 percent of full-time workers earned less than $30,000 a year? Where was the Left when anti-war fraud, Nobel Peace of crap prize-winner Obama bragged about his 30,000 troop surge into Afghanistan? Silent when he said “I’m really good at killing people,” referring to his drone strikes that killed over 4,000 innocent people and fueled Muslim hatred toward America. Where were those peace-loving, anti-war mongers when Obama ordered bombing campaigns that continued to fuel Muslim hatred in seven countries? What about stealing our rights through the National Security Agency and the famous Patriot Act, robbing us of our habeas corpus, that Obama signed into law in 2011 on New Year’s Eve when no one was paying attention? Where was the Left? Hiding in the Shadow. What it has denied and repressed about itself, it now projects on Trump, the Right and any other entity or person reflecting a contradictory viewpoint.
DENIAL, DENIAL, DENIAL
During the Obama years, liberals lost their morality, integrity, passion, purpose and drive. They rejected facts and realities before them, relegating them to storage bin of denials Jung called the Shadow. And when Obama’s tenure was over, the Shadow was cast across the country, especially among liberals and moderates. The Trends Journal was the first magazine (Spring 2016 edition) to predict Trump would win and why. And when he did win, we wrote: “Handing the Obama legacy off to Hillary Clinton signaled to the American populace ‘more of the same.’ In contrast, Trump’s simple message — It’s about the economy, stupid — resonated” (Trends Journal, Fall 2017). Now, eight months into Trump’s presidency, the nation is more divided than ever. And the so-called Left, smoldering in its state of shock, only rallies against narcissism, racism, sexism, Nazism and anti-Semitism under a new party label, “The Resistance,” but remains anti-war silent. Resistance is more denial. “We cannot change anything until we accept it,” Jung said. “Condemnation does not liberate; it oppresses.” For eight years under Obama, liberals denied, ignored and sat quiet while hypocrisy reigned over their party. They set the stage for a Trump-like figure, who used simple messaging and unorthodox tactics not only to win, but send much of the country into a tailspin, seeking answers and unifying opposition. Under the guise of exceptionalism, that holier-than-thou mindset that feeds more denial and more deposits into the Shadow’s unconscious, America and especially those who call themselves liberal created the flipside of the Great American Dream. Or, as Celente put it, we’re “Living and Dying in Dumfuckistan.” TJ