Here in the U.S., the Republican Party is in shock, unable to grasp the reality that Donald Trump is going to get their nomination for president. But no student of history should be surprised in the least by this. The entire Trump campaign is almost an exact blueprint of the strategies revealed in The True Believer by Eric Hoffer, which was written back in 1951.
Some relevant text from the book: “For the hopeful can draw strength from the most ridiculous sources of power—a slogan, a word, a button.” And nothing coalesces a movement faster than hatred of another group. More from the book: “Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. It pulls and whirls the individual away from his own self, makes him oblivious of his weal and fortune, frees him of jealousness and self-seeking.”
One of the fascinating examples Hoffer uses is the religious movements of the Reformation (which became Nationalistic ones). Listen to the language Luther exhorted to the faithful: “In the eyes of the Italians we Germans are merely low Teutonic swine. They exploit us like charlatans and suck the country to the marrow. Wake up Germany!”
When Trump rails that the Mexicans and Chinese are ripping us off and taking our jobs, we’re being played for suckers by NATO, America is no longer great and needs to wake up – he’s simply following the formula. Of course formulas like this work because they’re based on simplistic slogans, fear mongering, and marginalizing “other” people. Demagogues who practice this type of mass manipulation do so for their own power and aggrandizement, absent of any principles.
Hate-based movements can only be prevented when there are institutional safeguards in place. Institutions that are based upon principles. Hard to believe now, but there actually was a time when the GOP stood for the principles of fiscal restraint, less government, and personal liberty.
The Republican Party lost its way when it stopped being driven by principles. (And no, “Beating Hillary” is not a principle.) Give kudos to Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and Lindsey Graham, for putting principles before party. But look at the scores of other Republicans, who will blindly support a misogynistic, xenophobic, chauvinist, fascist, bully – because he’s running under the logo of their party.
Trump disparages women, Mexicans and Muslims, mocks people with disabilities, and his Twitter feed contains a level of juvenile insults and name calling that you would expect from a post-pubescent teenager. By the third debate the GOP should have simply thrown Trump out of the primary, for the simple reason he wasn’t congruent with the principles of the party. (Along with the principles of respect for others, and the office of the presidency.)
But of course the GOP didn’t throw Trump out, because they feared he would run as an independent; almost certainly guaranteeing a Democratic win. That’s probably true. But where is the party now? They have a candidate who will destroy whatever is left of the ideology. They would have been better to run someone who actually ran on Republican principles. Even if they lost, as would be likely, the party would have something left to build on.
This issue of operating by congruent principles is also manifesting itself in the debate as states try to enact legislation that marginalizes, penalizes, or even discriminates against LGBT people.
There are principled companies taking a stand, obviously a dangerous position economically. Lots of talk and hash tags about boycotts on social media. And some of these companies willing to take a stand for human dignity may lose some customers because of their willingness to speak out. But to the people running those companies – principles matter.
Proponents of these anti-LGBT policies suggest they are simply protecting religious rights. But these claims are no more absurd than the ones the Taliban, Al-Qaeda or ISIS make in order to justify enslaving women, or killing Christians, non-heterosexuals and apostates. In an enlightened society, no one’s religious beliefs gives them the power to enslave, attack, or kill others.
There is no such thing as “women’s rights,” “gay rights” or “transgender rights.” There are only human rights. Every human being on earth is entitled to dignity and basic human rights. Why? Because that is a principle that enlightened societies must live by.
Principles matter. Even when they hurt. Especially when they hurt...
My phone and email blew up the other day because a company I used to be associated with is bringing back the founder they fired five years ago. They’re spinning it as a replay of Steve Jobs returning to Apple. (Which is really quite rich, since a more fitting analogy might be that of a serial killer, returning to the scene of the murder.)
The Board of Directors of this company didn’t terminate this CEO because he missed a quarterly earnings forecast. It was for character issues. In the lawsuit the company filed at the time of the termination, the reasons included manipulating commissions payments to give friends and family financial benefits, making unauthorized market licensee proposals and product royalty commitments, unauthorized use of company funds, and being in discussion with employees and distributors to create a competing company.
The people writing me are incredulous, asking me how this man could be brought back. The answer is easy enough. Some companies and people believe that principles don’t matter. In this case, there are new owners in the company, their stock has cratered and it desperately needs to be propped up to prevent getting de-listed from the exchange. Maybe they think the "Steve Jobs back to Apple" meme is the answer.
But of course, this is why network marketing gets such a horrible reputation. There are earnings forecasts to meet, stock benchmarks to hit, and competitors snapping at your heels. This pressure leads some to think principles don’t matter and ethics are situational. But actions have consequences.
Some of the people writing me think I must be delighted to see such a dumpster fire taking place at a company that is now a competitor to me. But it only makes me sad. I have close friends that work in that company. And when bad things happen to any company, it reflects on everyone in the profession.
If network marketing wants to make that last, final leap into mainstream acceptance as a viable business model, people in the profession have to stand up and speak out. They have to believe in and practice principles of integrity, honesty, and decency.
This is true for the people who make our laws and the ones who want to govern us. Whether you're in business, raising your kids, or working at a minimum wage job, there are no "hacks" for doing the right thing.