I've been reading the recent horror stories about Donald Trump from the media, establishment Republicans, writers and others, and I wondered what more I can add to the conversation. It seems like no matter who Donald Trump insults, no matter who he aligns with, no matter what he says, even if provably untrue, a large percentage of mostly less educated and lower income individuals flock to his banner. Hasn't it all been said?
Then I realized, no it hasn't. There are two fairy tales that are very instructive, and as a sociologist and children's book writer, I think they help us understand about what is going on. And just as fairy tales have long provided an important moral message from the perspective of the less powerful lower income groups who feel exploited by the rich and powerful, these two fairy tales help to show what happens today.
One is The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson, published in 1837 in Denmark. The story tells the tale of an Emperor who was very fond of new clothes, so he spent all his money on them. One day, two weavers came to town and said they could weave cloth of the most beautiful colors and patterns, but these clothes would be invisible to everyone who was unfit for the job he held or was stupid or incompetent. So the Emperor paid large sums of money to both weavers to know what men in his kingdom were unfit for their jobs or foolish. But the weavers really created nothing at all as they pretended to weave at their looms. Even so, neither the Emperor nor his courtiers were willing to say they saw nothing, and when the weavers pretended to put on his new suit, telling the Emperor how wonderful he looked, he went out wearing nothing at all. He wanted to show his people how great he appeared, while his courtiers pretended to carry his long train - because, of course, no one wanted to appear foolish. Then, as the Emperor paraded around before his subjects in his "new" clothes, no one dared to say that they didn't see him wearing anything. But suddenly, a little child cried out: "But the Emperor has nothing at all on." At that, what the child said was whispered from one person to another, and everyone finally was ready to say the truth - that the Emperor had no clothes.
In turn, I think all of Trump's claims are much like that - and no matter what anyone says to call him on his exaggerations, insults, and lies, no one seems to care. So where is that little child now that we need him or her?
The other tale that I think is especially relevant today is the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, which comes from the town of Hamelin in Lower Saxony, Germany from the Middle Ages. The tale has been told many times, including by the Brothers Grimm. As the story goes, while the town was suffering from a rat infestation, a piper dressed in bright red clothing appeared claiming to be a rat catcher. He promised the mayor he would remove the rats, and the mayor promised to pay him. So the piper played his pipe to lure the rats into the river, where all but one drowned. But the mayor refused to pay him the full amount. So the piper vowed to return to take revenge, and one a day when the townspeople were all in church, he dressed in green like a hunter and played his pipe. He attracted the town's children, who followed him out of town into a cave and were never seen again. Or in some versions of the tale, the children followed him into the river and all drowned.
For me, Trump's followers are a little like these children who hear the pipes playing and follow blindly, mesmerized by the sound of the music because the piper plays so well. So where is the townsperson that will take away the piper's pipes so no one will follow? And where is the person who can pay off the piper what he is due, so he will take his pipes and go away?
To me these children's stories help present in a very simple way the problem we are facing today. People don't seem to want to admit that the Emperor has no clothes, so they just follow the Emperor blindly, even though he may be leading them off a cliff into a river to drown. I think it's time that we all wake up and look beneath the entertainment to the real message, whether it's by Donald Trump or Donald Drumpf. It's time to wake up America, before it's too late!
Gini Graham Scott, PhD, writes frequently about social trends and everyday life. She is the author of over 50 books with major publishers and has published 30 books through her company Changemakers Publishing and Writing. She writes books and proposals for clients and has written and produced over 50 short videos through Changemakers Productions and is a partner in a service that connects writers to publishers, agents, and the film industry. Her latest books are Scammed, Lies and Liars: How and Why Sociopaths Lie and How to Detect and Deal With Them, and The New Middle Ages: How the Growing Inequalities Between Rich and Poor Threaten Our Way of Life.