Multitasking is a delusion. Its premise: that the human mind can, like a computer, parallel process and perform multiple tasks effectively. No, it can’t. Each new task undertaken diminishes efficiency across all tasks. For those who need empirical proof, read this article, make a phone call, prepare a meal, do a crossword puzzle, and paint a picture. How’s it going? Multitasking usually involves less demanding tasks, but people who drive and talk on their phones represent a heightened risk on the road, and that is performing only two fairly simple functions. On a conscious level, the human brain best operates as a serial, one-by-one processor rather than parallel processing, although the subconscious and conscious apparently work in tandem.
Delusion prompts multitasking and superficiality is the result. Like an invasive weed, delusion and superficiality crowd out and eventually eliminate more desirable mental flora. Deluded and superficial minds are unable to form perspectives, analyze, imagine, or philosophize. Epistemology is broadly defined as the theory of knowledge. Reams have been written about the upcoming election, but little about how either of the presumed nominees thinks. It’s a demanding and thankless task, but someone has to do it, because this election is an epistemological train wreck.
Ideally, a mind would take the shortest possible path from observation, facts, hypotheses, and experimentation to logical conclusion. Delusion avoids rather than arrive at conclusions. Instead of the shortest path, the mind builds mazes, and just when it appears an end might be reached, more walls and false passages are erected.
Hillary Clinton personifies delusion. Insecure, transparently phony, privately nasty, and unlikable, she has no political gifts other than her marriage. Her performance since law school has ranged from, at best, undistinguished, to a disastrous tenure as Secretary of State. She embraced foreign interventionism and regime change that had clearly failed in Afghanistan and Iraq, rebranding it as a “Responsibility to Protect.” At Clinton’s behest, the people of Libya were “protected” out of Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship and into the bloody chaos of a failed state and new Islamic State stronghold. She blessed arms shipments from Libya to Syria to help US-backed rebels foment a revolution similar to the one that had failed in Libya. Her characterization of Vladimir Putin as Hitler set up a cardboard devil that prevented her from understanding either the point of view of the other major nuclear power’s leader or the subtleties of one of the US’s most important international relationships. One expects far better from America’s chief diplomat.
Clinton has skated from scandal to scandal since her Arkansas days, aided by a complaisant press that has fawned over her every insipid word and unremarkable deed and ignored her every crime. What her and her husband get away with legally and in broad daylight probably dwarfs their sub rosa criminality. The Clinton Foundation is a slush fund and their six-figure speakers’ fees are graft. The end of the mental maze Hillary and her deluded supporters cannot allow themselves to reach is that she’s incompetent, corrupt, and therefore unfit to be president. Those who get to the end and still support her do so because of reflexive gender solidarity or party affiliation, or venality—they expect something from her.
Donald Trump has expertly discovered and exploited hot buttons on his path to the Republican nomination. By definition, hot buttons are emotional and superficial, but pressing them are what politicians do. Trump has done it better than anyone else, constantly throwing his opponents off balance. Clinton is vulnerable to Trump’s strikes on her scandals, her husband’s infidelities and her role in suppressing the truth, gender tokenism, lack of accomplishment, whopping lies, and whatever other weaknesses he decides to exploit. Delusions render one mentally inflexible, fragile, and susceptible to derogatory attacks, especially when they’re true. By the time Clinton figures out how to respond, Trump will have launched several more attacks.
However, his superficiality, so appropriate for this campaign, will be his greatest weakness should he win the election. As far as policy goes, his pronouncements have been a contradictory mess. Take debt: he’s going to eliminate the national debt, encourage the Fed to maintain low interest rates, cram a debt restructuring down America’s creditors’ throats, not touch entitlements, and if all else fails, default. Anyone who thinks they know how this will work out please explain in the comments section below.
Similarly, Trump has spoken of scaling back the US’s foreign military commitments and making our allies pay for their own defense, encouraging those of us who have urged the same for years. But he also wants to “stand up” to various threats and increase the already huge military budget (which will further increase that deficit he’s going to eliminate). His proposals are applauded, but the day after the election the applause stops. The winner has to pick the few important themes, draft plans, and mobilize support behind specific proposals. Trump has said he likes to keep people off balance, and perhaps he knows exactly what he wants to do if he wins. The likelier bet is that he has only the vaguest outline of a strategy.
Which need not be fatal to Trump’s candidacy or potential presidency. Good politicians are rarely deep thinkers; they’re button pushers who outsource much of their thinking on nuts-and-bolts policy. His four bankruptcies probably indicate that nuts and bolts are a Trump weakness. All presidents have their brain trusts and Trump needs to expand his. He can’t and shouldn’t try to multitask, but rather outsource policy clarification and planning. He’ll have plenty of volunteers from the think tanks, media, and academia. David Stockman may already be raising his hand (see here, here, and here). Trump imposing even a modicum of intellectual coherence on himself (he could do worse than bring Stockman on board), would be in far better position to launch ideological attacks on Clinton. It would also increase his chances of a successful presidency
If Trump clearly stakes out a position of less or no foreign military interventionism, which has been a winner so far, Clinton has never met an intervention she didn’t love, stretching back to her husband’s presidency. Trump can embrace the private enterprise that has made him a billionaire and offer it as an alternative to disastrous Obamacare, of which disastrous-had-it-been-implemented Hillary Care was the forerunner. Highlighting crony capitalism, of which he has admittedly been a beneficiary, hits Clinton at a weak point, one that Bernie Sanders exploited effectively. These kind of issues offer Trump the opportunity to replicate his cornerstone success with the immigration issue.
The election is Trump’s to lose. Hillary Clinton is the same captive of the establishment and stilted campaigner as the Republicans he destroyed. Trump’s running the table. Barring successful machinations to deny him the nomination at the convention, or a predictably unpredictable “accident,” he shouldn’t have much trouble with the candidate the consistently wrong pundits believe he can’t beat.
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