Trump has won!!!* The whole world is talking about the win of someone who no one ever thought would get past the primary elections. A similar shock wave went through the world when Britain voted to leave the European union (E.U.). The media just could not understand the logic of the voters to vote (as they view it) so irrationally, as in both cases the consequences could have seemingly potentially negative outcomes for each country (although that needs to be proven).
Many of the news sites (Sky news, BBC, CNN etc etc) have put these votes down to the common theme of money and inequality being the source of the votes. The population of Britain and America feel the lack of jobs and there has emerged a large divide between those who are wealthy and the poor. The Brexit and Trump vote are being reported as a backlash to the voters being ignored by those in power.
According to a CNN exit poll 45% of white women with college degrees supported Trump which seems to imply that it cannot all be down to a lack of wealth. Each side was promising economic growth and jobs if they would get into power, with the implication that if they did not get into power then there might be fewer jobs. The Clinton team did not ignore the jobless or poor and were vocal about their polices to try and help them.
Unfortunately the reasons given for the vote seem only to scrape the surface of why the voters, voted as they did. In order to understand what people feel they are missing and why the people voted the way they did, one needs to see the broader picture. It needs to be understood a key part of people’s psyche which is being touched by the groups involved. The underlying reason also affects the relationships which people have with each other and when addressed appropriately can help to improve their connection.
The individual who best expressed what society is presently searching for is found in this week’s Torah portion. When Abraham began teaching about one G-D and the seven laws of Noah, he was looked at as an individual whose way of thinking opposed the outlook of the whole world. Abraham and his wife Sarah were able to gather a following of people who started a world movement which changed the very fabric of society.
Abraham came with a message which was not just a philosophical change but a psychological one. Abraham was not just arguing that people should not believe in many G-Ds but instead in the one G-D, he was also teaching the masses that the individual mattered. His goal was not just to get everyone on his side and do what he believes, being their leader but his message was that each individual added to the fabric of the goal of society.
Contrasting this idea with the past election campaigns, the Clinton campaign’s logo was “Hillary for America”, whereas Trump’s was “Make America great again”. The Clinton campaign was telling people that they should believe in Hillary and her policies. Trump on the other hand was implying that each American before talking about specific ideals needs to feel good about being American.
The same can be said for “Brexit” where those who wanted to leave had a logo which stated “vote leave, let’s take control”, whereas those who wanted to stay stated “Britain stronger in Europe”. The Brexit camp was saying that you as an individual matter, your daily life does not have to be defined by a number of politicians who can out vote your representatives in their European government.
Western society preaches that we are all similar, we are to live in the melting pot of our country. The individual is seen as part of the society and they are taught that they have a responsibility to help others. What is not addressed is how are they supposed to feel good about themselves? Where is the message of being proud of yourself because your part of ....... ???
Brexit and Trump have shown that the individual has a psychological need to first feel good about themselves and then they will be open to ideas. People need to feel that as a unique individual they are special and can contribute, not just to be told what the ideal in which they should believe. The body of society is made up of different parts and those parts have to be recognised for what they can do, it is not good enough to just promise them prosperity.
Abraham’s message was “There is no one like you, let’s change the world together!” Abraham spread the seven laws of Noah to all of mankind, not differentiating if someone was clever, simple, business minded or philosopher, he believed that each had a special role to play and each one could make a difference. He offered hospitality in the middle of the desert and only after he had shown compassion towards the travellers would he then explain about the ideas of G-D.
Brexit and Trump have tried to imitate Abraham’s motto through trying to make each person feel that they were part of special unit (Britain or America) and they had a special contribution which they could make. Within marriage and relationships too this idea cannot be over emphasized! A spouse or friend needs to know that they are just appreciated for being who they are and not just for what they do for you. Random acts of kindness can go a long way to express that the relationship is not just dependent on what the other person can do for me but that I actually care about them. The random acts though are not enough, there needs to be coupled with this a recognition of the uniqueness of the individual or of their contribution to the relationship. This can be through a “thank you” or some other way of expressing gratitude for something your spouse has done.
The Torah points out that each Jew has an intrinsic worth having a G-DLY soul within each of them (Tanya Ch.2 and Job 31,2) , although that potential good needs to be revealed in actuality. In addition to this the Torah’s view of the unique contribution of each individual Jew can be summed up by a statement of Rambam. Rambam states (laws of Teshuva 3,4) that “one good deed can tip the scales and bring the ultimate redemption”. Rambam does not limit the good deed to the rich, the elite, the wise, the old etc., that good deed could be from any Jew because every individual counts!
* The policies of Trump or Brexit are not the point being discussed here, as those can be debated in another article. The goal of this article is to understand part of the psychology behind the victory.