US General Election: ‘Honest Villain’ Defeats ‘Hypocrite’

Today, as the new U.S. President-elect Trump and his supporters celebrated their victory, perhaps hundreds of millions of people around the world had to “steady their hands and stop their eyeglasses from dropping,” as we say in China.

Played for hundreds of years, America’s game of election had never been, until today, so full of drama and controversy. The two presidential candidates, with completely different backgrounds, styles and views, together presented a Hollywood-style show that could very well compete with House of Cards Season 3.

Compared with Hillary, who had rich experience in politics and worked in the White House from early on, Trump was initially in people’s mind only as a big-mouthed real estate businessman. He had almost zero chance of ascending to the throne to become the world’s most powerful person. However, what is trending in this day and age is “counter-attack in an unfavorable situation.”* Wearing his halo of being non-mainstream, Trump stubbornly took an unusual path in this general election, experiencing trips and falls along the way but eventually emerging largely unscathed.

To think about it carefully, this unusual path was not entirely unreasonable. Their detailed policies aside and only judging from their backgrounds, Hillary, who represents the Democratic party, is more like an heiress, whereas Trump, who represents the Republican party, is obviously a reformer. History and reality of today and yesterday, domestic and foreign, have proved it is inevitable that the public will grow grumpy with the long-standing ruling party when the opposition party and revolutionaries will find it easier to criticize and to win people’s heart.

People yearning for change would even look forward to novelty in every aspect of life brought by a new president. The U.S. media once commented that, through live TV broadcasts, Trump “sighed, made faces, not really ‘president-like’”* and that Hillary “remained calm and composed” and looked too much like a president and therefore was less interesting.

You cannot really blame the public for being naive. Years ago, when Obama managed to clear all the thistles and thorns along his path and he became the first black president in the history of America, his success to a large extent was due to his team’s slogan, “Change,” which hit right on the spot for the American people. However, this time, as the wind changed its direction and the river its course, the public needed another change to galvanize their government into action. In this game of choosing one out of two, the public chose the new face, and the losing side had to swallow their tears.

Of course, the candidate the Democrats chose to be their nominee was partly to blame. Hillary repeatedly fought and failed many battles. In addition to her old age and fragile health, her all the more confusing “Emailgate” investigation at a crucial moment became the last straw to finally crush the camel.

It’s safe to say that what was most striking about the two presidential candidates in this election was that they were each entangled in one scandal after another: Trump’s tax evasion, discriminatory views, obscene behaviors and insults toward women; Hillary’s corruption and Emailgate investigations. Neither of the two sides is any worse or any better than the other, and the damages they have caused weighed similarly. As a result, the two candidates presented to the global audience the most heated presidential debates in history. Their wars of words were studded with mud-slinging, dirt-digging and sharp personal attacks. Many people online couldn’t help but feel that the battle had turned too sickening to behold. To continue to watch, one would have to down a few bottles to calm one’s nerves first.

When the Lecherous Bandit Tian Boguang Gets More Popular than the Hypocrite Yue Buqun

Then, when the battle began in public, and after so many attempts to gag and strangle each other, why did the voters prefer Trump still more? The reason is not so hard to understand. To some degree, this was a battle between an honest villain and a hypocrite.

People are more likely to be on guard when faced with an honest villain, whose evil is obvious, and they’d be more cautious and have a smaller chance of getting hurt. In contrast, a hypocrite is capable of making people open up, but the moment there appears to be a conflict of interest, he or she will betray them and play low with no compunction or mercy.

To borrow a popular concept, this is what’s called “information asymmetry” in people’s knowledge of public figures. The ugly shamelessness of an honest villain is easy to see through, whereas who knows the exact distance between a hypocrite’s real moral bottom line and the public’s perception of it?

To borrow a Chinese joke, a woman is asked this question: When there are only two men left on the planet, one an honest villain and the other a hypocrite, who will you choose? My guess is anyone with a shred of reason will say “I’d better go for the honest villain.” After all, his evil side is visible and straightforward; but with a hypocrite, you can share his bed for your entire life without knowing for sure whether he’s got some shocking secret.

In the same line of reasoning, the minute the lecherous bandit Tian Boguang makes his appearance at the beginning of Jin Yong’s novel, The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, he starts sexually harassing his junior fellow martial arts trainee, Yi Lin. From then on, readers will not have any high expectations of this guy. The more they read about him, the less likely they are to be surprised by his behavior. Later, they may even find him amusing. Another character, Yue Buqun, on the contrary, behaves from the outset like a “model of the gentlemen,” but later shows his dark and malicious side in many ways and is detested by everyone.

Therefore, if Hillary later gets some time, I’d recommend her to read a few martial arts novels by Jin Yong. Maybe they’ll help her feel less sad when looking into the mirror or feel less wronged by the voters.

In any case, on the day of the U.S. general election, the Chinese people finally felt a rising enthusiasm to participate in politics and discussions of it. It is said that, in small factories in the area of Yiwu in Zhejiang province in China, people had already figured out the winner of the presidential election based on the order sizes of election flags for Trump and Hillary respectively. While working hard to make a living, those factory owners and workers still made time for politics, which was indeed touching. By now the crowds have dispersed as the music is turned down, and the flags are sagging as the drumbeats go quiet. After all, it’s other people’s president. So, get back to where you were going or get ready for bed.

*Editor’s note: This quote, while accurately translated, could not be verified.

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