The debate about how and why Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States may go on forever. Economists will say the Great Recession caused it. Sociologists will argue disaffected white Americans caused it. Pundits will blame it on the media.
Those answers are way too complicated, however. The reason for Trump's victory is simple: fast food. I call it the Col. Sanders Theory (a potential nominee for defense secretary).
Trump represents all the things our country has come to know and love, things that are quick, easy, and instantaneous - just like ordering a Big Mac. We live in a fast-moving culture. No one has or needs the time anymore to analyze information, challenge rhetoric, or make educated decisions. It all happens with a click, a tap, or a swipe.
It's no surprise to have heard that Trump consumed a lot of fast food on the campaign trail. His rhetoric resonated like a cheeseburger, kind of greasy and hard to swallow. Many people will go for the burger (and Trump) because, in the short term, it tastes good. They don't think about the long-term consequences.
Fast-food values infiltrate our communications. We want our information tweeted in 140 characters or less (possibly at 4 a.m.), fed to us on Facebook's newsfeed, photographed on Instagram (even the name implies speed), or read for us by theSkimm, a website that aggregates the news to provide a quick overview. No real reading required.
The past election didn't require Americans to dig too deep to find a position. Bigot vs. crook. Outsider vs. insider. Vague promises from both sides. Taking a position by reposting someone else's Facebook status is easy; understanding politics and policy, not so much.
Politics and policy are thick and juicy like a sirloin steak. TV rhetoric is slim and dry like a fast-food burger. Abe Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address. Trump starred in a reality TV show. Which is easier to digest?
Trump's The Apprentice was simple, too. Apprentice means someone who learns to do something from the very beginning. Audiences got an introduction. Amusing characters. Canned music. Commercial break. End of show. A complete business education in an hour.
An appearance of efficiency is what people perceive and related to about Trump. They could identify with someone they were used to seeing every week who also made things easy to understand. In his campaign, he didn't offer any specifics other than to say he'd build a wall, deport illegals, and keep out Muslims. Simple enough. Who wants to think about what it would take to legislate Trump's ideas? Introduction of a bill to Congress. Hearings by subcommittees. Debate among House members. Arguments in the Senate. A possible filibuster. The threat of an executive order. Who needs all that when Trump makes it sound like he'll hire a few carpenters and bricklayers to get the job done?
Short, easy-to-digest taglines matter, too, and fast-food places have the best: "Have It Your Way" and "I'm Lovin' It." The catchphrase for Trump's TV show was "You're fired." In his campaign it was "Make American Great Again." He keeps it simple: great, tremendous, amazing, huge. Words a first grader can understand.
Personally, I'd prefer a freshly made home-cooked meal. Sure, it's a bit of an undertaking. You have to go to the market, read a recipe, prepare the ingredients, cook the food, and clean up. The hardest thing about ordering fast food is deciphering the menu and answering the question: "You want fries with that?"
Speeding into the drive-through, ordering from the car, scarfing it down on the go, that's what Trump promised much of America - an appetizing prospect with a fast fix. It sounds good when you want it, but ultimately it's processed, unsatisfying, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. In other words, he's giving us indigestion.