Last Friday, Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert cartoon, was a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. When not doodling for newspapers, Adams is a student of hypnosis and master of persuasion. He predicted Donald Trump would win the presidency last year not because of his policies but because of Trump’s own mastery of persuasion, making the case that all of those “stupid” and “immature” antics Trump has become known for are actually staged. Trump, Adams says, is working on us, controlling the conversation in part by A/B testing labels on the public. For example, that time he faux-offhandedly asked if Hillary Clinton was “Crooked Hillary” or “Heartless Hillary” because he couldn’t decide. He got supporters to debate that, then read the social media feedback. Crooked won the day and that’s how he now refers to her. So now whenever anything possibly shady sprouts up around her in the media we are likely to think “Crooked Hillary” whether Trump supporters or not. Trump has hypnotized us like a human advertising campaign.
In Trump we have the perfect candidate for the people who can no longer tell the difference between reality and reality TV. But we also have a guy whom we are told by the mainstream media over and over again appeals to people in the same way Bernie Sanders does: he’s anti-establishment. He isn’t bought. At least he’s honest.
Well… no. But now that characterization is going to bite them in the ass. Trump isn’t a real candidate with real policies. He’s a man who has read Hitler’s speeches to learn how to control and influence people. He’s not winning with policies at all. He’s A/B testing the audience, giving them what they want to hear, and implanting suggestions in how to think, including how to process criticisms of him. With all of that in mind, Trump’s latest attack is on the media itself. This from CNN:
The billionaire had called the news conference to announce an accounting of his at least $5.6 million in fundraising for veterans groups, but spent most of the 40 minutes criticizing and insulting reporters — collectively and at times individually — as “dishonest,” “not good people,” sleazy, and among the worst human beings he has ever met.
While critics of Trump may dismiss this as a childish, narcissistic rant used to shine the spotlight on himself at a time when he has no Republican opponents left to help him with that, what Adams tells us is that this is absolutely untrue. Trump did not call a press conference to talk about raising funds for veterans groups and accidentally rant for 40 minutes on the reporters in the room. The press conference subject was a smokescreen; he was messaging us again. Reporters are not to be trusted, he’s telling us. They’re dishonest. Scum of the earth. Worst people ever. And this is how he frames the discussion moving into the general election.
Don’t believe Hillary, you already know she’s crooked. Don’t believe Bernie, you already know he’s crazy. Don’t believe the press, you already know they’re lying scumbags. By the time the general election rolls around we might have forgotten why we already “know” those things about these people. We might forget who told us or that anyone told us at all. And a majority of people might vote Trump into office based on nothing more than the power of persuasion while the rest wonder how this nightmare is happening. Don’t you see through this guy?! Are you a bunch of idiots?!, they’ll scream.
And the problem will have been that none of us saw through him except people like Scott Adams and magicians. He will have won with all of our help–not just his sleeping followers but his blind critics.
There’s only one cure for this: Let’s stay awake and no longer let Trump off the hook as a whiney idiot for the whiney idiot masses. He knows what he’s doing. Let’s give the devil his due. Let’s get him the hell out of here and then examine the culture we’ve created for such a beast to be able to rise in the first place.