In America, there is this really big focus on the President. The myth of the almighty political leader portrays the whole government edifice to be in the hands of just one man. It is a lie; and it contributes to the shitty place we find ourselves in today. Who really thinks that a federal government responsible for managing some 340 million people’s lives is largely run by one person? It is absurd. But it is a narrative pushed by the media and the whole realm of government and related sectors. American history, academia, and the like all push this falsehood upon the American public of pure concentric power.
Why Push The Presidential Singularity Narrative?
Why? Americans tell lies to each other a lot. Americans have been fed on lies down through the ages. They seem particularly susceptible to myths and believing in them. Stories get simplified and reduced to convenient messages. Right from the beginning and the founding of the nation this has happened. The Mayflower and the Puritan foundational story omits the slaver truth, which preceded it. That slaves were shipped to an early colony in 1619.
“Overall, the 1619 Project is a much-needed corrective to the blindly celebratory histories that once dominated our understanding of the past—histories that wrongly suggested racism and slavery were not a central part of U.S. history. “
The American Revolution was not a general uprising against oppressors, rather it was the propertied class throwing off their British colonial masters. It was about taxation on wealthy folk. Native Indians, black slaves, and indentured servants did not rise up in some great equalising revolution. You get these flag waving grandiose statements about the land of the free and such like but these are myths and not granular facts. The American Constitution declared that all white guys were basically created equal.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, “
Women, Blacks, Asians, Native Indians and such like didn’t rate a mention. Entrenched apartheid existed for much of American history. This is not a land of equal opportunity in reality. Racial segregation in schools in the southern states did not end until the 1980s in many instances. Power has been firmly clenched in the hands of white men for a very long time. The US still has not had a female President. Indeed, the great democracy is looking very shaky right now.
Focusing On One Man At The Top
The focus on one man at the top is a failing in a Republic. It is more like what you would find in a Monarchy. The popularly elected President places undue weight upon his shoulders or the perception of such singular power. It is a political system designed for stupid people. It encourages a superficial engagement with the process of governing. It turns the serious responsibility of political leadership into a clown show.
A celebrity contest decides what is viewed as the most important job in the world. You end up with someone like Donald Trump.
FDR & Churchill
I remember reading the war diaries of Winston Churchill. The wartime British Prime Minister’s frustration at having to deal with a Franklin Roosevelt endlessly mired in domestic politics struck me as a big issue, considering the whole world was at war at the time. The disproportionate political focus on the President was disabling for great swathes of his government’s terms in office. Things could not get done in a timely manner. Things have not changed much, apart from the two term limit being brought in. Huge amounts of waste in the way the democratic process operates in America exist.
Old Man Time & The Celebrity President
Today, we have an octogenarian President Biden, naturally coming under fire over his extreme age. Biden’s main claim to fame is that he beat Trump in the 2020 election – no mean feat. Trump is running again in 2024. So is Biden. The inordinate American focus on the President does not serve Biden well. His administration has done a pretty good job during a global high inflationary period. America, economically, is looking in fairly good shape. However, Americans want a celebrity President not a grandfatherly old man who was a Vice President to America’s first black President. American’s have had a movie star in Reagan, and enjoyed the vigorous qualities of Bill Clinton. A pop star would, I bet, attract support in the right rendition. Trump is a proven liar and fraud. His popularity remains despite his incompetent and corrupt presidency of 2016-2020.
Mob Boss & The Strong Man Archetype
The myth of the almighty political leader in America feeds into the strong man stratagems for autocratic parties. Fascism is rearing its ugly head once again above the ramparts. Extreme conservative forces want to frighten people into electing this kind of leader. The GOP is banging on about ‘the other.’ Demonising LGBTQI folk. Banning books in libraries and schools. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News continues to pump out noxious lies about the evil ways of Liberals, Socialists, and Democrats. History tells that it always ends really badly for all, even those who voted them in. Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Rachel Maddow publishes Prequel and this historical warning captures the extent of America’s fascist past. The GOP has disappeared up its own fundament. There are people in Congress who don’t even know how government works. The rule of law has been denigrated repeatedly by Trump. His lies and deflections have messed with the heads of many Americans. People don’t know their up from down anymore. It seems like the safest place for criminals in America is at the very top. There are so many holes in the political system that individuals like George Santos can Botox their way into Congress. The whole world is shaking its head in mystification at WTF is going on in the USA. Trump is a mob boss fleecing the American people.
Mark Blyth, the economist, reckons America will vote Trump back in 2024.
Heaven Help Us
Until this singular focus on the President is somehow balanced out the American political system will remain susceptible to abuse. The media has a big role to play in this. Producers and editors have to stop demanding this tight focus on simplified stories for the public. It is not about one man. Stop telling stories like this. Raise the bar when it comes to educating the public. Demand more from your viewers and readers. Share the complex narrative. Refrain from feeding pap to the American public. Stop chasing clicks and politicising every single thing. Not everything in life is a competition. How about inspiring the populace through deepening their awareness of other members of the government. Policy or politics? It has become all about politics. This has diminished the public’s view of government. Look for a better story, perhaps, a more uplifting one. Find the courage to lift your gaze from the arsehole of the world. What myth are you spinning now? The revenge of the entitled?
Populism & Conservative Politics
There has been a global trend of conservative forces embracing populism. Autocratic leaders going around pointing the finger at Liberal elites. Telling ordinary people that they are just as good as these elites, these eggheads. So, folk who used to be a bit ashamed of who they were are now proud of their opinions. They are standing up for their racism. Holding fast in their loathing of gay people. Walking tall in their derision of minorities and of ‘the other’. Trump has told them it is OK to be like this, even more that it is great. That these attitudes and prejudices were what made America great. Science can go f*** itself. Global warming can take a hike. Gender politics and wokeism can take a flying f*** somewhere else.
Populism & The Presidency
Populism is about social grievances in America right now. Trump, the liar and fraud, is promising to make it all better. The alternative Democrat messenger is almost too old to vote, let alone lead. Where is the great new hope? Where is the generational shift? What has happened since Barak Obama? I like Bernie Sanders, personally, but Americans did not see themselves in his visage. The superficial celebrity inclined American culture did not resonate with such an authentic human being, it seems. Too much substance and not enough glitz and glamour. So, we have a narcissistic sociopath in Donald Trump pouting his way around the country promising revenge and retribution. Trump tells the lies and warns about the dangers of other people telling lies. Trump warns the electorate about voter fraud before the election and then cries wolf, whilst committing voter fraud himself. America has been bamboozled by this compulsive liar and fraudster. Ordinary folk find it hard to comprehend how Trump operates. He is a mob boss with orange skin and a never ending litany of accusations about the other guy.
Robert Sudha Hamilton is the author of Money Matters: Navigating Credit, Debt, and Financial Freedom.