Narratives are funny things, they can be used to both build up, as well as tear down their underlying realities. However, what they really have the power to do, when used effectively; is to distort reality so much in the mind; reality is now seen to be fantasy – and fantasy is reality. Sometimes in both the creators, as well as recipients.
We all do it, we’re bombarded with it daily in not only advertising, but work, play, from friends, and yes, even from ourselves. If you think I’m off base just try to remember the last “glory days” conversation you’ve overheard. Or, better yet, one where you were actually present. I’ll guarantee it’s not the same as you recall it.
And as far as “ourselves?” All I’ll say is this: How many thought it wasn’t all “that bad” when deciding to go out on a date with an old ex – only to vividly remember precisely why they were an “ex” an hour into that date?
Welcome to narrative building, and tear down 101. And there’s nothing wrong with it. For in many respects; it’s the way the world works.
However, with that said: Regardless if it’s used to enhance, or, for nefarious reasons: the power of building, and using a narrative takes a tremendous amount of resources. Both in tangible, as well as intangible costs.
Yet, the costs associated many times are calculated as “acceptable” for one very fundamental reason, and that reason is this: Once established – it is near impossible for others to overcome the inherent “given the benefit of doubt” shield against all accusations. Regardless of their veracity.
It is for this precise, and unequivocal reason, that shield is worth its weight not only in gold, but every other precious metal and/or gem combined. For once lost – it’s near impossible to buy back at any price.
We may be watching this phenom played out at levels, and in public, seen less than once in generations.
The prudent who watch it for the lessons to be learned (regardless of political affiliation or nationality) will be rewarded in many ways to witness lessons in not only power; but human nature; and business as well. All on a stage which in many ways looks reminiscently familiar to Aesop’s “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” Only this time: it’ll be televised.
(Note: The following has nothing to do with whose guy, or, gal is running for office. I’m not endorsing, nor do I wish to make my own preference known even if I have one. What I am stating is using the current individuals, and their accompanying narratives as examples, times like this for observation, contemplation, in real-time, only comes around once in many lifetimes. It demands attention no matter who, or where, one stands. Period.)
In the U.S. we are currently under two weeks before the final balloting takes place for president. On the one hand you have the self-made billionaire, businessman Mr. Trump. On the other, you have the former first lady, and secretary of state Mrs. Clinton.
Both, are without doubt, not only professional, and superior narrative builders. But as I alluded to earlier: understand, and are serial purveyors of that other most import factor: narrative maintainers. It is fair to say they have been cultivating their narratives (and its associated maintenance costs) all their lives. That’s a phenomenal undertaking and expenditure the likes many haven’t the slightest in understanding of both its true costs, as well as the dedication needed to maintain.
When it comes to Mr. Trump; whatever “slings and arrows” are used against him has always been thwarted by his shield of “I’m a businessman, I can get things done others can’t, and for proof just look at my net worth.”
You may agree, or disagree all you want (and they do) but his carefully built narrative (just repeat the afore-mentioned line when needed) has stood. And to reinforce it? Just look to all the places, or things which bares his name/brand.
Some may not be impressed, but far more are. Why? Go out and try doing it yourself, see how far you get before you start contemplating “Is all this work and risk really worth it?”
When it comes to Mrs. Clinton the same can be said for her shield. i.e., “I was First Lady and have seen the presidency and what’s involved first hand in ways no other has ever had before actually taking the seat. I also know via being Secretary what the real world of friends and foes looks like first hand. I’ve spent nearly my entire live as a public servant, so my life is an open book. And as proof any so-called ‘scandal’ associated with me has been nothing more than some vicious partisan political attack just remember – that’s why I’m running for you, so you don’t have too!”
Just like I stated previous: You may agree or disagree (and they do) but that narrative holds as a shield every time. And as proof? Here’s the narrative you may have heard once or twice previous: “Then why has every investigation turned up “There’s no there – there?”
And again, maybe you’re not impressed, but once again, as I implied with the previous: “Go out and try doing it yourself, see how far you get before you start contemplating “Is all this work and risk really worth it?”
Yet, with those above narratives holding what it has also done is allowed for others (whether they be individuals or businesses) to use the umbrella of those story lines to feel compelled to throw their own accusations or feelings of discontent against one side or the other feeling the same type of impunity.
And here is where things might be a little more sticky than they might of first thought. Or, worse – contemplated.
For when perceived non-political types wade into the weeds of the political? Collapsing narratives have a way of exposing and/or revealing those who might have thought were exempt from the adverse effects of all things “political.” Let’s use just two of the latest, yet arguably biggest names of billionaire examples: Peter Thiel and Mark Cuban.
Peter Thiel has been a vociferous defender, and ally of Mr. Trump. The same can be said of Mark Cuban for Mrs. Clinton. Regardless of what you may think of either people (and I’m a fan of both) they have put their mouth where their choice lays, in very public fashion and forums.
When it comes to political stakes, they have put both their personal, and some might say, their business reputation on-the-line for their candidates. Again, whether one agrees with their position, most haven’t the intestinal fortitude to do so when there’s so much at stake. This is a game of very high stakes indeed. But here’s where narrative crushing can crush even the most well intended backer.
As of today (and today is a lifetime in politics) Mr. Trump’s shield against the slings and arrows from Mr. Cuban has held. i.e., even without producing his current tax documents he’s still perceived as he was. e.g, a billionaire businessman.
Mr. Thiel, also a billionaire businessman, has defended, stood by, as well as conducted his own personal crusade against what many have perceived as a “corrupt media.” And won in open court. This narrative aligns very well with his candidate of choice. His narrative also enforces (in the eyes of others) his candidates own running narrative. i.e., As long as there’s no real, credible smoking gun stating something on the lines of: “Tax documents prove he’s only worth .13 cents, and has even less in his bank account!” He’s the billionaire businessman he claims he is. Again, other than some credible “smoking gun” the narrative pretty much remains intact and can be assumed to be as strong as ever.
However, Mr. Cuban might find himself in a very precarious position as these final days unravel with the latest real, credible “smoking gun” allegations being made against Mrs. Clinton with a reopening 11-days prior to the election by the FBI. And here’s why….
Say what you want about either narratives and the defenses laid out as to defend them. One can be said is only about “trying to appear wealthier than one might be.” People can take issue with that, and some do. However, the other is about “whether or not one has become wealthy, or gained that wealth because of nefarious means.” Do you think a resolution to the negative whether it be the first or the second has a different connotation for not only the candidate, but their supporters should that be proved correct? Let me use the following as an example….
Mr. Cuban has been unabashed in his calling out of Trump’s so-called “reported wealth.” It’s fair game, and if that’s the game he decided to play in, it’s his prerogative. And his capacity as to foster his assertions are both insightful as well as meaningful. They shouldn’t be dismissed offhandedly. That said, he also took some very, very, forward steps with assertions as to state emphatically a list of questions he would like Mr. Trump to answer in a one-on-one discussion with him.
Why could there be such a problem with this? Easy. It’s becoming more apparent via every Wikileaks document dump that to have any meeting with his candidate of choice – you had to offer that amount of $’s and maybe much (much) more.
The “narrative” of Ms. Clinton where “honesty,” or “doing it solely for the public good” is not only unravelling, it’s appearing more and more there was never any “clothes” to begin with. And if that’s found to be proved with more revelations via demonstrable facts – where does that leave Mr. Cuban and his assertions? Where was his “judgement?” Was he just “blinded” into being a “shill” to a political candidate/party no matter “who the candidate?” Are you seeing the implications here? One is far worse than the other, no?
It’s easy to see (and again, I’m a fan of Cuban, and it pains me to point this out, but, it is – what it is) accusations of “why didn’t you ask the same type of probing questions of your own first?” will be hard to defend against should anything be found out to the detriment of Mrs. Clinton. If it turns out, there is some there – there? A lot of people are going to not only have “egg on their face” but might look more like having been through a carnival dunk tank filled with yolks. And it doesn’t stop there.
Another “narrative” which not only emerged, but has grown steady, gaining strength at every turn during this latest election cycle is that of “rigged.” i.e., Whether it be a coordinated effort for the omission or reporting of stories via the press, or collusion as to carry a contrary narrative to underlying revelations, and far, far more.
Stories, and revelations have been steadily making the rounds confirming, not disavowing such revelations in both frequency, as well as in examples that make even the most died-in-the-wool nay sayer saying, “Wait – what?” Here’s just the latest example, again, in real-time:
As of this writing which is about 24hrs since the latest revelations that the FBI – just 11 days prior to a presidential election – has reopened in an unprecedented manner – the supposedly closed case against the democrat nominee/candidate Mrs. Clinton. And the reason why? “New found evidence.”
Remember, this is evidence that shouldn’t have been around to “be found” in the first place. For if there was – then the entire narrative was sham. Think about that for a moment before moving on. Along with the implications for everyone involved and the narrative that allowed those to get-on-board, and remain-on-board.
Now, want a little food-for-thought as to close-the-loop on the narrative unraveling as to whether, or not, there was any there – there when it comes to the narrative of “rigging?” Consider this if you will….
Would you think this latest, historical, unprecedented revelation via the FBI would be a “trending” topic on any of the predominant social media platforms? Nope: Nothing too see here, thanks for stopping by. Please move along.
You just can’t make this stuff up. Think there’ll be any backlash by users to these platforms if it’s proven out there was “there -there?” One never knows, however, would you want to have your reputation and/or business ethics/bottom-line riding on what you now know? I know I wouldn’t.
Imagine, all of it; years, and years of cultivation. Years, and years of political sweat and tears. Years, and years of countless people, and reputations, all falling apart because someone was caught with their pants down exposing not only themselves, but quite possibly the next “emperor.”
Who said living through history wasn’t as good as the narrative that follows? For when it comes to observing what is currently transpiring: this is the most lewd and rude moments in political history I can recall. And all because one man couldn’t keep his pants on.
© 2016 Mark St.Cyr