Get Me Roger Stone
One of the documentaries that have had the most profound effect on me recently is Netflix's Get Me Roger Stone. For those of you unaware of who Roger Stone is (this includes me before watching the documentary), he's a "political consultant and lobbyist." For those of you who have no idea what that means, simply put, he gets people elected and laws passed. Isn't that what actual congressmen do, you might ask. Perhaps in the age of ancient Rome, but in this day and age of Super PACs and Twitter campaigns, such is not the case. Not to mention, Roger was partly responsible for the election of figures like (hope you've heard of these men) Reagan and Nixon, who existed far before the age of viral media. Roger is most recently known for curating the Trump campaign, and although he was fired (or voluntarily walked himself out and replaced himself with his best buddy Paul Manafort), it may not be an understatement to say that Stone has been building Trump as a presidential candidate starting from as early as the 80's/90's. While I can go deep into the documentary and Mr.Stone from a political angle and discuss the merit and ethics of Super PACs and political consultants, I actually want to focus this post on Roger himself as well as the idea that you don't have to be good at numbers to be rich and powerful.
I think in this day and age of software and big data, we're often forgetful that regardless of the immersion of the Metaverse, we are still largely a people-based world. This is something I enjoy highlighting across my videos and opinion posts, but if you can figure people out, you can go far beyond what product creators or data scientists can get to. In fact, the people that truly move the world I think have keen understanding of both, and are able to use the strengths of others to get to where they need or direct their society where they want it to go. I'm in no way trying to idolize Roger Stone as he has his wide array of faults, but after watching the documentary, I was reminded that there exists a world away from the powers of tech and science, and even finance, composed of individuals most people don't even recognize, that truly shape the way that we think and how our daily operations are conducted. To give an example that best defines the kind of person Roger is, here's an anecdote from his childhood. During his elementary school days, his school held a mock election between JFK and Nixon. Although he grew up in a relative conservative household and he grew to be one of the most influential political consultants of the GOP, Roger at the time favored JFK due to his Catholic roots. To make sure that JFK won, Roger misled fellow students at the lunchline that Nixon would impose school on Saturdays. At the surprise of the local newspaper, JFK won the conservative neighborhood's mock election by a landslide, to which Stone notes that "it was then he learned the power of misinformation, although he has never used it since ;)"
Roger was also the youngest person to be involved in the Watergate Scandal with Nixon (he may have been my age or younger at the time). He was instructed by the campaign to go the other candidate's office and donate on behalf of the "socialists," in order to bring their image down. This resulted in him being mentioned during the Watergate trials - his parents weren't overly excited, but judging from his description of what went down, Mr.Stone seemed to be rather proud of his involvement in such a high profile scandal at such a young age. It'll come to a surprise to some of you that although he himself didn't necessarily coin the terms, "Make America Great Again" and the "Silent Majority" aren't new terms created by Trump the marketing genius - they were used by Reagan back in the 80's. It's hard to disassociate Roger from these ventures, as much as he led the campaigns to "Lock Her Up" as well as point fingers back at Bill Clinton when Trump's profanity-ridden locker room talk video was leaked.
I believe that once you're on this road of this type of influence, you're amidst a circular process of knowledge and power. Being around the figures of influence, at least on surface value, you're able to rack in knowledge of what actually happens behind the scenes, use that knowledge to garner more power and the cycle continues. While it seems like Roger actually enjoys the spotlight and exerts his eccentric energy on camera, my assumption is that most of these figures purposefully hide from the light and move through those that enjoy showing face. It doesn't take a political expert to understand that figureheads often are not the ones that exert true power, but it's the kitchen cabinet that they rely on (or are backed by) that really have a say on what goes on at the end of the day, the figurehead just delivers it to the public.
At a practical level, this also made me wonder about the number of "occupations" out there that truly have no traditional process and you just "fall into place." Although largely propelled by Stone's natural abilities in campaign processes and inherent interest in politics, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the roles that he took on and definitely no foresight into where that would lead him next. He didn't go on LinkedIn, checked off 2-3 years of experience in Campaign Management and put on his resume that he was an expert in Misinformation and was involved in the Watergate scandal. There was no college counselor advising him to take this path nor did he watch a Youtube video that listed out the salaries and top 10 benefits associated with becoming a political consultant. This presents the question - how many jobs are out there that we don't even recognize as a job that is seeking talent (or missing out on them due to the lack of exposure) as everyone sways to the traditional roles?
I think I'd be lying if I said there weren't moments during the documentary that I wished I had this type of influence or worked amongst the "art" of people themselves, which I believe is the core of what politics is. We're all very busy trying to be part of this tech immersion and often forget that we are just people after all, and if we can figure out how to "code" people, perhaps we don't need to learn how to code in Python. I look forward to my documentary in 30 years, Get Me Bryan Jun!