March is getting a little mad. This time is typically reserved for me to tune out the world and tune into a nonstop sports bonanza with the NCAA basketball playoffs. This March and my beloved “basketball zone,” is disrupted by Mad Hat syndrome. This is a situation where a practice is continued in spite of the persistence of facts that show the practice to be wrong or harmful.
This week, Donald Trump refuted Mitt Romney’s statements about his failed businesses. During his press conference following the Mississippi and Michigan primaries, Mr. Trump displayed a table of products, including Trump Steak and Trump Wine and described his successful ventures with these products. Over the next few days, media outlets fact checked his statements. The steaks displayed were Bush Brothers; Trump steaks are no longer available and the Trump wine displayed was from a company that implicitly states no affiliation with Donald Trump. What was the fallout against this backdrop of misinformation? Wait for it, wait for it….I am still waiting for it. This is just the latest incident of many. Donald Trump with his growing base of supporters is seemingly unencumbered by logic and fact. While statements are proven to be untrue, unimplementable and unreasonable, he is winning. The NCAA basketball playoffs have referees for oversight of the games as well as a governing body. They are not perfect, but it is oversight. What is the oversight for Mr. Trump?
More often than not, Mr. Trump answers questions by veering off on a totally unrelated subject. I lament the loss of a debate system where political discourse is a discussion grounded in fact and informed by reasoned analysis. The Trump campaign seems to lack both fact and analysis but excels in powerful rhetoric reminiscent of Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.* The NCAA basketball playoffs in the coming weeks with structured format, rules and penalties are in sharp contrast to this political season. While new ideas and paradigm shifts are great for innovation, working up a crowd behind sound bites, anecdotes and non-facts is a march to madness and that’s not a game I want to play or watch.
*Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is a book by Charles Mackay published in 1841.