What Trump has done to politics, is what the Kardashian´s did to reality television. He commercialized it. Unlike his uptight, tight-lipped and full buttoned predecessors, President Trump is not a politician, he is a reality star (with a nuclear button at his disposal). He is an embodiment of scandals, conspiracies, Russian investigations and not to mention provocative tweets. A safe interpretation of all the chaos would be to assume that the Republican party drew the shorter stick when it came to President Trump.
However, if you ruffle up enough feathers and look through the facade of it all, everything that has happened can be treated as not just another unhappy accident but a well calculated and stipulated strategy.
In the current scenario, those of whom that support him, don’t seem to care about the policies his government makes and those of whom that oppose him are too involved in ridiculing him or keeping an eye on the multiple misdemeanors that he so easily provides them with. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, policies as important as tax reforms, immigration, environmental laws, international alliances, healthcare, and DACA are dimmed out of vision. The future of a country is being decided not behind closed doors but while hiding in plain sight. As the country continues to be preoccupied with the Trumpman show, the Republicans are working on laws that need to be made.
While one may never know exactly how millions of people so easily accept the cards that they are dealt with. The phenomenon of sustained inattentional blindness can try to show some light into the complexities of our human psyche. It was Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simon in their book ´The Invisible Gorilla ‘who tested the concept of sustained inattentional blindness. Sustained inattentional blindness is a psychological lack of attention that cannot be attributed to any defects in vision. Rather, it is a scenario in which a person fails to sense an unsuspecting stimulus in plain sight.
They conducted an experiment where a bunch of observers is asked to attend a game of passing of the ball. There are two teams of people – three in white shirts and three in black. The attendees are then asked to keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in the white shirts. As the match ensues, a woman is tasked to dress up in a Gorilla costume and stroll right into the middle of the scene, thump her chest and leave just as she had arrived.
From an utterly rational standpoint, it would be safe to assume that all the participants observing the passing of the ball would have noticed the bizarre stunt by the woman in the Gorilla costume. However, post the experiment nearly half of the participants who watched the game seemed to have missed the Gorillas entrance. It was as though the Gorilla had pulled an Xmen on them and turned invisible.
While the experiment is more concerned with the senses of vision, it would not be a stretch to extend its parallels to explain the current state of politics in many countries. The observers who failed to spot the gorilla in the room had a hard time believing that they missed such an obvious event. Some seemed to have been completely convinced that such an event could not have possibly taken place. Which is almost synonymous with how many of us feel, when the truth of politics is shown before our lives.
We face denial in the face of such an absurdity that we had allowed to waltz by and change the very fabric of our livelihood, home, and future. We deflect, hide and continue to avoid the Gorilla in the room. As Daniel Kahneman so beautifully puts in his book, thinking fast and slow, “The gorilla study illustrates two important facts about our minds: we can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness.”
Merlyn Nita Ramanan is a Master´s student of Economics, currently enrolled at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg. A researcher by profession, she is an avid reader with a keen interest in writing.