The suit chosen to rank above the others.
Why is anyone surprised this guy is winning?
Name recognition is the most valuable currency in an age of branding. And not only does Donald Trump possess close to 100% national recognition with a name that exudes victory, it is actually defined by it.
Google: “trump definition”
As if the deliciously dulcet pronunciation wasn’t enough (seriously, take a second and go listen), the crux of the definition says it all:
“The suit chosen to rank above the others.”
We live in a culture of constant media consumption where celebrity and credibility have become synonymous. We like to be entertained and as a result true substance in the more meaningful areas of social discourse is harder to find. The political arena is far from immune to this phenomenon and so the 24-hour news cycle has become trimmed and shaped to be captivating and digestible in the shortened attention span network.
What would make a nation of viewers constantly changing the channel stop and take stock of what is at stake? The process has become a game of pundits and prognostications, with shock and awe dominating the soundbites and storyline. Such brevity and triviality is coming at the cost of meaningful discourse in our democratic process.
Politics has become entertainment as much as civic engagement.
No wonder the 2016 presidential campaign is such a shit show.
From the moment Trump entered the race he brought with him a brand that helps his message stick. And as a result his 4-word campaign slogan has become as emblazoned on our collective brains as those god-awful hats.
There is no denying that to a certain extent we cast our president, not unlike an actor in a role. This tradition is steeped in as much policy substance as fanfare image and motivational messaging. Running for president is one of the greatest productions in our culture.
It’s about building a brand people trust.
The process has always been fueled by a sense of lore, that one individual can heroically sweep aside the struggles of our people and open the flood gates of prosperity for all. And much like the performance of any actor we must ask ourselves, “Do I believe this person?” In the final analysis we need the myth as much as we need the man (or one day the woman). But in recent years the extremes of that journey seem more surreal than ever. As politics has polarized and assimilated into the entertain industrial complex the actual job of a president has become somewhat lost.
The invasion of constant media coverage on our national political process has now ballooned into an infection that is warping the landscape. The person elected to the highest office is a representative embodiment of the nation at any given point in time. So why would it surprise anyone that in an era of almost constant entertainment consumption, a time in which cameras dictate our belief system, shaping our sense of identity, credibility, and connectivity, an unpredictable outsider would steal the stage?
Politics is desperately trying to keep up with the changing culture of audience engagement in the information age. Elections, and more importantly civic responsibility, must fight through the noise to earn our attention and gain relevance. Ratings and polls seem to have become the new standard metric of cultural value. This election has been a unique case study in what it takes for a candidate to draw necessary support to mount a sustained national campaign in the digital era. It requires not just unlimited money, or a critical issue to rally behind, but most powerful above all is name recognition. If your brand can’t generate that, your campaign will simply become lost in the fog.
As our democracy continues to evolve through the information and entertainment era the question remains, will celebrity status trump out?
For now the suit chosen to rank about the others forges onward like an unstoppable locomotive bound for the GOP nomination. But the final decision on this larger than life candidate remains to be seen.
Paolo DiFabio is hurtling through space just like everybody else, writing, photographing, posting, and tweeting along the journey. He’s a Boston boy who proudly calls The 617 home. If he’s not frantically typing out his rantings he’s probably in a classroom, on a basketball court or a softball field, or chasing after his 3-year-old daughter.
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