Could it be that the driving force behind the success of Donald Trump’s campaign is authenticity? Why is it that despite his many flaws and ideas that border on utter lunacy, Trump has been able to basically take over a political party and defeat their star players with apparent ease?
Someone recently posted a video of Trump talking about his desire to physically hit several speakers at the Democratic National Convention. In the video he spoke of his visceral experience, his anger, his feeling of betrayal, his desire to seek revenge. While people across the political spectrum have condemned this type of political rhetoric, there is an authenticity to Donald Trump that is rare in modern politics, where every detail of a candidate’s persona, speech, and even dress are carefully scripted. When he spoke of his feelings of anger and desire for revenge, I believed him. None of the many critics who condemn the lack of civility in his campaign ever question the honesty of his emotional statements. After all, who at some point in time hasn’t wanted to slap or retaliate against someone for verbally attacking or publicly criticizing us? For those looking for authenticity in a candidate, a statement such as this doesn’t appear dangerous, it appears honest. It also speaks to a relatable human emotional experience and provides an opportunity for the listener to find connection with Trump.
This is perhaps where the Clinton campaign is most vulnerable. While Hillary Clinton is much more qualified in terms of both education and experience to serve as President, she struggles with authenticity and finding connection with working-class Americans. Unfortunately, as a woman, she is judged by a double standard that equates any expression of emotion on her part as evidence of female hysteria, while also condemning her for appearing callous and aloof. What Trump seems to understand is that, if you’re authentic, you can be imperfect and still attract a lot of support. I am hoping that this lesson is not lost on the Clinton campaign. We want to see the person who is seeking to lead us. Not just a perfected and polished version, but the whole imperfect person.
Perhaps no one says it better than Brene Brown, who has done extensive research in the area of vulnerability, authenticity, and perfection, and writes:
““Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
Clearly, Donald Trump plays fast and loose with historical facts, but when he communicates his emotional experience to the world he appears to be quite authentic, and his willingness to be vulnerable creates connection. In our world of plastic candidates who court votes more than honest connection, it might just get you elected president.