Power and the populist

Power and the populist

Photo by Alejandro Cartagena 🇲🇽🏳‍🌈 on Unsplash

Talking about the ‘man child’.

Sometimes conversations just meander along into some interesting territory. Here is one between myself and my buddy Chris in July 2020 prior to the US election and 6 months into the pandemic.


Good morning, Chris.

How are you doing?

We have to stop meeting like this people begin to talk. 

They do already. So until we grow up and become a republic we have to put up with foreigners interfering in our democracy… Seems to be the news this morning.

I get all of this reporting about the Royals and everything, but they are just the law under themselves. Mind you they always have been news, for centuries literally.

They are just celebrities now, aren’t they?

They are now but they never used to be. Not so long ago it was the power struggle, the wrestling around of power. That’s really what gets people off once money is no longer an issue then it’s all about the power.

I mean you can see that with our own Malcolm Turnbull, you know, there was nothing he would gain from being Prime Minister except some feathers in his cap and maybe a place in history. He’s already worth 150 million bucks or something so he doesn’t really need the money. It’s about the glory and the power?

Yeah, and you wonder what people get out of that it obviously drives so many people. I mean, I think power drives people in business more than profit. In my experience, the people in charge of businesses are there more because they like to be in charge than they are to make profit for shareholders.

Hmm… I get the ‘in charge’ thing. 

It’s seductive. No question.

I guess power is what’s really there but what’s the power for in your particular case? I can see the difference between, I don’t know, Gandhi and Donald Trump, they both want to influence people. But very different circumstances that got them to be leaders with very different styles. Gandhi was obviously not in it for the glory or maybe was I don’t know. We certainly didn’t gain anything material out of it. 

No, but that’s what I think I’m getting at. I think it’s these people like to be respected and you get that in a position of power. Almost by definition you’re respected because empowering at the end of a gun is respect of some sort or another even if I respect you because you could take my life. I don’t respect you for your moral high ground. I respect you because I’m s*** scared of that AK-47 you’re holding.

Yeah.

So power is the thing, isn’t it? 

And we talked about that before, the difference between the sort of positional power and personal power and maybe that’s you know, Trump has no personal power but he’s craved it and so he’s got himself positional power.

I think that’s a good summation of him. It’s why the media like calling him a man child because he is.

Hmm.

This is a bit of a diss to children because children can be quite pure and Trump is clearly not pure but he is an emotional child. No question that he hasn’t grown up at all. What he does is all for that sense of power in himself. Not from what the presidency provides. I remember when I stood in front of the White House on a visit to Washington and thinking ‘this is an interesting place, you know, it’s kind of locked away’. You can’t get at it, you know. Inside of that place, it would be easy to maintain a small army of sycophants just you just prop you up. And if you have no sense of what you’re doing for the other 350 million people in the country it doesn’t matter. 

Yes and every utterance that army of people coming out to say what he really meant was ‘blah’ to clean up his mess.

Yep. I was thinking about the 20,000 lies. That’s one every 90 minutes of his tenure. It’s kind of phenomenal, isn’t it?

Is it in the Guinness Book of Records?

An untruth every 90 minutes of his tenure ought to be.

But Kaylee will never lie to the press 

Except she does it every day.

She mops up his s*** that is just spread everywhere. But yeah, I mean he’s crashing and it’s really interesting to hear Biden talk about making steel for wind generators and jobs in renewable technologies, battery cars, which out of America just seems like just crazy talk, you know.

But in a way, it’s an obvious platform, isn’t it? Because their problem is that they lost last time because Hillary was considered to be just more of the same, right?

Yeah, she was.

Right? So he’s got to be different this time around. Otherwise, they’ll lose again only he’s not because he’s an old white man?

Agreed, he’s just from the same, Central Casting that produced Hillary.

Exactly. And ironically she was probably a better candidate from that mould.

Yeah, she probably was. Certainly, she was more in touch with her sensibilities because Trump is losing his but yeah, it’s interesting that Hillary was more of the same, but the public chose a scenario worse than that.

Yes, it is extraordinary, isn’t it? Populism might have a short life though. COVID-19 is really sorting them out. I mean all of the populist leaders will be found wanting if they try to be in charge of this virus which will just tell them to stuff off.

Yeah, you can just see it because populism requires you to be popular and so you have to say popular stuff like ‘the stock market is rising’ and ‘interest rates are great’, ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’. And, of course, you have to say that freedom is important and all the other things that are popular. The last thing is to tell people to stay home and you have to shut your business. 

Ouch, very unpopular.

It obviously isn’t gonna work for the populist style.

Except you only need to be a bit popular. Remember Margaret Thatcher won less than 40% of the vote or whatever it was. A tiny majority that gets you over the line. Just learn the system you’re in.

Hmm and maybe Biden has to talk green new deal and the like because he needs the support of his side of politics who are going there.

Well, he has to lock in his core base too. Democrats have to get out of the house, brave the virus, and go vote. That’s always their problem. Turnout in numbers and they win.

Yeah. Republicans have said it. If everyone votes we don’t win.

That’s right, which is probably why they don’t have compulsory voting.

Yeah, and why they play all sorts of jiggery-pokery with booths and where they are and how many there are and when they’re open and whatever…

Yep. Yep, illegal, illegal.

Well, you need and all that stuff when it’s all about manipulating the vote.

To bring back the man child!


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