The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election is historically important because it signals the end of era of post-modernism (wishy-washy moral relativism) and the beginning of the era of purposetism (finding and living one's individual life purpose at every level of human cooperation - partnership to family to community to company to country to species). Doing so allows Americans to conceive of new personal and political futures beyond those dictated by the past, our political institutions and our mainstream media.
# The Death of Post-modernism If you have been following the news, America is tired of Trump and Clinton - the longer the race goes on, the less Americans like these two. But why? Not just because they lie and change their positions in anyway necessary to advance their careers. In this regard, Trump and Clinton are no different than other politicians.
However, historically, Americans looked the other way, because life was good. However, after a 40 year economic slide for the average American household, the silent erosion of the middle class, Americans have realized the jig is up. Americans are now face-to-face with the hard truth that life isn't that good. With record income inequality, social stagnation, cultural decay and ecological degradation, Americans are looking for a change. And Clinton is anything but that, while Trump is a change for certain, but a totally unpredictable wild card.
Sure Trump may be an outsider in some sense, but in another sense, he's another rich white guy in a long line of rich white guys buying his way to power (e.g. Rockefeller, Roosevelt, GHWB, Perot, GWB, Romney, Jeb). Contrasted with the rise of purpose-driven, values-forward truth talkers like McGovern, Carter, Nader, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman and now Bernie Sanders, Trump not only doesn't tell the truth, he doesn't care about it. And that's just on the personal level. On the level of collective truth (what's going on in the world ecologically, economically, socially, etc.), Trump doesn't know the truth, and thus cannot express or align himself with it. Secretary Clinton on the other hand, is at least knowledgeable of collective truth, but personal truth, that's something either she doesn't know or is afraid to share, as she has yet to convince voters who she really is.
Amidst the truthlessness of this election, America is craving something real, an honest person, a bite of real Omaha beef, something substantive and nutritious. Americans crave not only their own purpose, but want a President who has one, who leads with a moral compass, who is more than rhetoric, but the lifelong expression of their purpose and deepest ideals.
What makes Trump and Secretary Clinton significant historic figures, is in many ways what made President George W. Bush a significant historic figure. They are canaries in the coal mine. Trump and Clinton, like GWB signal the end of something big. No, not the Democratic and Republican parties. These will live to fight another day. As GWB and his administration's disastrous economic policies signaled the end of neoliberalism (ref. austerity and it's effects: unprecedented inflation, national debt, deficit and unemployment during America's love affair with neoliberalism; shadowstats.org), Clinton and Trump signal the end of post-modernism.
Post-modernism is a philosophy and a cultural orientation, a system of thought that holds all perspectives equal, and basically allows anyone to do, be or say anything as long as they can get away with it. In short, post-modernism, while a very useful stage of intellectual and moral development, granting us the freedom to explore and define our own values and vision, it bears a tremendous downside - moral relativism - if it is indulged in or permitted to be a place for decision-making. Moral relativism is what allows us to tolerate Trump's megalomania, Hillary's flip-flopping, and questionable honesty.
This notable downside of moral relativism is often surfaced by the right, in their defense of Christianity and the heteronormative social policy that supports it. Moral relativism, while making truly awesome things like Civil Rights and Burning Man possible, also provides a wide berth for moral decrepitude, man's inhumanity to man, greed, gluttony and sloth. It allows Hillary and Trump to unapologetically lie. It allows them to say anything they want, because our amnesiac sound-byte-laiden, short attention span, media cycle allows it. Post-modernism holds that Nelson Mandela, Charles Manson, Mother Theresa, Donald Trump and Pope Francis are all humans whose ideas, morals and behaviors have equal utility and weight. Of course, this is not true, never has been and never will be, but yet, many on the left and right find themselves taking cover of the post-modern adage - "to each his own".
Post-modernism, in truth, died as soon as it began in the 20th Century, with the contributions of integral thinkers like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Aurobindo, Erwin Laszlo and Ken Wilber. Integral thought re-contextualized the whimsical post-modern morally relative conclusions offered by Sartre, Camus, Baudrillard and Rorty. Post-modernism's own values hierarchy (denouncing hierarchy, proclaiming that the hierarchy of no hierarchy is better than other hierarchies), is not only logically inconsistent, but has no evidence anywhere in the natural world, other than in the papers of 20th century post-modern philosophers who still cling to its relevance. There isn't any entity of the Cosmos that isn't governed by inviolable laws, that isn't in command of other dependent entities, nor free of the command of larger entities.
As such, the rise of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is a testament to America's ill-conceived long embrace of post-modernism, of praising achievement regardless of why (vision) and how (values) that achievement occurred, and to what end said achievement serves (mission).
Moreso than Clinton, Trump is the purest embodiment of post-modernism. He says whatever he feels like saying, and makes no attempt to reconcile himself with the fact that he contradicts himself almost daily. He is the king of spouting signifiers without a signified. He is the simulacra.
He feels no need to reconcile himself with the fact that he lives in America, a country founded of, by and for immigrants. He doesn't care that his wives are immigrants.
He doesn't care that it is 2016, over 50 years since the Civil Rights act. He'll go after the poor, the "losers", the overweight, the intellectually challenged, women, GLBTQ, Chinese, Muslims and Mexicans. It doesn't matter to him that it is 2016. He feels no need to honor our wisdom traditions or our social progress, nor feels any compulsion to reach out to the Christian center of the party he represents.
Although he's great at saying how he feels, he only speaks in vague simple language. He refuses to substantiate his claims or tell the truth, fully embodying the post-modern dictate that all truth is relative. One minute his wall costs $4B, the next $8B, the next $10B, the next $12B, while engineers put the actual cost of a 1,000 mile, 30 ft. wall at $25B. He is post-modernism embodied - totally unanchored to the truth.
Further, outside of this one campaign policy, Trump offers nothing else specifically. There is zero substance in his platform. There is also zero substance in his electoral campaign. He has no ground game, no organized base of support. His popularity is a function of him waking up and calling TV shows to say something outrageous.
His businesses also have no substance, nor higher purpose. They are shrouded in a giant swirl of holding companies and lawyer-speak, a cloud of misdirection and bankruptcies rivaled only by his famous hair. He creates his reality on the fly, exhibits bravado and emotion, and in short, much like Tom Cruise (fantasy career - movie star, and head of a fantasy religion - Scientology), lives in a world of his own making, making fantasy financial, media and gambling profits, and really doing just about anything to further the utterance of his name. And he does all of this without any regard for science, reality, philosophy, psychology, our species' wisdom traditions, or the impacts of his actions. He's actually pretty remarkable in this way.
However, most Americans intuitively are repulsed by this emptiness, this lack of substance, reason and integrity. At a gut level, we know that post-modernism doesn't work. Scientifically, we've been watching it not work in our economy, our culture, our environment, our families and our jobs for the last 40 years. So now what?
What do we put in place of this post-modern cadaver? Do we regress to our pre-modern moralizing religions, e.g. fundamentalist Islam and Christianity, who adhere to unsubstantiated and unverifiable truth? Or do we go long on technology and allow our species' purpose-agnostic / post-modern engineers continue to develop machines and code that seem to serve no other purpose than removing human thinking, autonomy, creativity and contribution? Or maybe this is just an issue of scale and we all need to go back to the land, live simply and abide by the workability of a commune's social contracts?
While all these utopias (rapture, singularity, agrarian commune) are tempting, there is a less complicated solution, one that allows us to retain all the gifts of the last 200 years of social, economic and technological innovation, while restoring integrity to the human experience, humanity's political economy and our relationship with the Earth.
The Rise of Purposetism
In contrast to post-modernism, purposetism is an orientation to purpose, towards desiring to live one's own purpose and to nurture the purpose of others, such that cooperation among the purpose-awakened/ing yields authentic and generative outcomes for all beings. In this regard, purposetism is a personal and collective expression of truth, seeking to express purpose at each successive level of human cooperation. Purposetism asks what is the purpose of a human, a marriage, a family, a community, town, company, sovereign, species, planet and Cosmos? And how do we know? The emerging field of purpose research suggests that awakening individuals to their life's purpose is both good for the goose (success, love and health) and the gander (economically, politically and ecologically). The chart on the left from the Ernst & Young / Harvard Business Review Report "The Business Case for Purpose" points to the close connection between purpose and profit.
But what is purpose? I was trained in teh Purpose Guides Institute Purpose Octagon model, one that holds we have eight aspects of our purpose (vision, values, core, powers, essence, unique transformative process, mission, message and delivery method). Further, vision and mission heavily rely on context, which determines how one's higher purpose serves the whole. Without a contemporary integrally-informed context, the result of living one's purpose could quite possibly be detrimental to all involved, e.g. Hitler, whose context was a tiny expression of what was true at the time. Simply put, without knowing what is going on in the world economically, ecologically, culturally, scientifically and spirituality, one's life purpose has not reached its fullness. In this regard, Donald Trump is about as far away from living a life of purpose as can be imagined, and Bernie Sanders is about as close to living his purpose as can be imagined. Hillary is somewhere in between.
However, humanity still in the question of the purpose of our units of cooperation - relationship, family, community, company, country, species, planet. Perhaps each unit has a unique purpose dependent upon the unique purpose of its constituents. It is hard to say for certain. However, what is abundantly clear, is that America can no longer march forth electing the purpose-ignorant and suffer their morally relativistic rhetoric and corrupt character. America is hungry for more.
She demands truth and honesty. But how can a person be truthful or honest, if they do not know their purpose? How can they align their words and deeds without an awareness of their purpose, without their center, without a plumb-line? What is a leader without a life's purpose?
Inventing a New Future for America This election is not about Hillary vs. Trump or Democrats vs. Republicans. That is a decision given to us by our past. If anything, this election is about the need and possibility for something altogether different. We need to imagine and create something well beyond what has happened in the past.
If we don't do this and we believe the media and it's insistence on the current two-party dichotomy, we are faced with a confusing situation. We are faced with misdirection and paradox, e.g. Trump is not a Republican, historically Democratic financial supporter, seemingly unaligned with either party, and happy to slaughter the GOP's sacred cows - Wall St. and corporations, as well as live a life that is anything but the expression of the GOP's morally conservative base. Trump's lack of a platform and plan means that voting for Trump is not voting for anything other than change itself. It's actually a no confidence vote in the government itself. A vote for Trump is a vote to only destroy what isn't working (in Trump's eyes at least - the whole government). Hillary on the other hand, the front-runner for the Democratic party, is in bed with the GOP strongholds - Big Pharma and Wall St., has voted conservatively on diplomatic issues (pro-war in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan), social issues (pro prison-industrial complex anti-Gay rights, etc.) and economic issues (pro-TPP, pro-Monsanto, anti-financial regulation).
As such, America only has one real choice - create something brand new. The only candidate asserting anything outside of this dichotomy is Senator Bernie Sanders, who dares to implement social democracy, an altogether distinct form of government that embraces the whole, that nurtures economic, ecological and social wellness and consistently creating the best outcomes for its citizens, e.g.
9 of the 10 the happiest countries in the world are social democracies (Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand; UN World Happiness Report, 2015).
9 of the 10 countries rated best to do business in are social democracies (Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom; Forbes, 2015).
8 of the 10 countries with the highest GDP per hour worked, a measure that expresses economic productivity during work hours, are social democracies (Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Ireland, Denmark; The Conference Board, 2014).
Although widely known throughout the world as the optimal form of government for an industrialized nation, it's heretical in the United States, as with all of these obvious benefits, it comes with higher taxes for the wealthy. Bernie's particular social democracy platform and infrastructure, healthcare and education-heavy investment plan sets America up for long-term sustainable economic growth and has been validated by an outside economist as resulting in 26 million new jobs, and increasing per household income by $22k a year.