According to the Washington Post, President Trump has told over 3000 lies since he was sworn in as US President.
For many of those lies, you might think that any intelligent person knows they can’t be true, such as asserting that the border wall with Mexico was being built, when it’s not. Some of them might be based on ignorance – such as claiming that the US “loses” $500b on its trade deficits with China – when no-one actually loses money on a trade deficit. Others just appear to be made up bits of nonsense.
It’s trite to say how unusual it is that the leader of the world’s second largest democracy has such a relationship with the truth. But that is not as astonishing as how all these lies appear to be accepted or at best, excused by many people.
At times I think that those that follow Trump must be ignorant or stupid. They might be, but it might be that leadership is wanted more than we realise, in any form. Even though I write this leadership blog and help people with their leadership development, I don’t personally feel any great urge for anybody to lead me. But I’ve noticed that many people do and over millennia we see examples of people foolishly and tragically following leaders – maybe out of fear – but often out of a desire to be led somewhere…anywhere!
Many people want a leader, warts and all. Trump is that leader for many people. Did I just say that!
Actually the title is an oxymoron. But we’re seeing a lot of blaming in political leadership. Trump is an obvious example. Started his campaign for US President by blaming Mexicans for real or imagined woes. The solution was a wall. Almost daily he seems to have crises that are to be blamed on others – staff, the Democrats, the media is popular – without any sense of personal responsibility.
There’s actually two sorts of blaming that Trump is involved in. The first is blaming groups of people for societal problems. The second is blaming groups of people or individuals as the case may be, for day-to-day issues.
The former is the most serious and we owe it to ourselves to be constantly vigilant to protect our freedom and democracy. Trump justified his initial blaming of Mexicans with dubious comments about crimes they have committed.
We have a new government in New Zealand. At the heart of this government is a strong signal that immigrants and foreigners are to blame for transport congestion, house prices and struggling infrastructure. It’s an attractive scenario on the face of it. If we’ve let too many people into the country or let them own assets without properly equipping ourselves for it, then it’s got to stop.
But it’s a very slippery slope. When the Labour Party produced it’s list of Chinese-sounding names of house buyers there was an outrage. Some Chinese families have been here since the early 19th century. But more significantly, it was simply racial profiling, the likes of which we hadn’t seen from a political party since Muldoon’s Samoan overstayer crackdown in the 1970s.
Labour is now as one with NZ First in cutting immigration to fix problems that immigrants have allegedly caused. The solution is not going to be a wall, but paperwork at the border at Auckland International Airport in Mangere.
Now is the time for leaders everywhere to stay vigilant to protect those being blamed.
James Comey said he was confused by Trump’s behaviour. Several pieces of Comey’s evidence struck me as familiar when dealing with toxic leaders: “The president and I had multiple conversations about my job. He repeatedly told me I was doing a great job and asked if I would stay on. I told him I intended to serve out the remaining six years of my term” and later “The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to” and “Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty””.
If you’ve worked up close with the sort of boss Trump appears to be you might have noticed certain behaviours all at once:
References to commentary about you from others named (and many times un-named)
Questions about your role on matters settled between you and your boss as though they weren’t
It’s quite likely that this sort of boss is simply manifestly insecure and unsure about decisions recently made. Even if it’s only that, there’s very little good to come with staying around while the behaviour continues. Corporate bullies in positions of ultimate power in their environment are not good for you..
In isolation each of these behaviours may be explainable, but in my experience, put together they paint a very dangerous picture.