So, What’s The Story Behind Trump’s ‘Surprise’?
I have been thinking about this Trump thing and how it has been that some folks have simply not been able to understand what was going on in front of their faces.
I don’t just mean the ordinary voters, but pundits, analysts and other politicians.
Here, I will make an aside and not that it is quite likely that many, perhaps most of these groups were fully aware of what was happening but their assigned task was to convince the main in the street that Trump was not as significant as he has been and will be.
I was looking at the process by which a person gets to be president of The Free World.
Setting aside the truth that it probably does not make much difference to the man in the street who becomes the president, it is certainly true that various power blocs DO have a keen interest in who gets to be THEIR representative.
To that end it is necessary to convince a significant minority (not necessarily a majority) of the population that the representative of a chosen bloc should gain the needed votes.
What Are The Primaries All About?
It seems to me that the strategic purpose of the charade that is the primary elections is to give the various candidates an opportunity to build a brand among the electorate. After all, almost all the runners and riders for president are unknown to most Americans at the start of the contest.
The primaries give each prospective candidate an opportunity to build a connection with the public, to get their faces known and to transmit a chosen and groomed persona that is hoped will resonate with the relatively uneducated and unsophisticated proles who are expected to make a choice.
We have had many people telling us that Trump was going to fail, that he’d get nowhere and, in terms of the actions taken to dislodge Trump’s progress he had a reasonably expected point. If I were to look at the machinations against him by the Republican party and by the representatives of the various power blocs, to which Trump does not (at this time) seem to belong then I’d say, ‘Yes, Trump has no chance’.
However, what many, probably most people forgot, or disregarded was what the primaries are all about – building the brand.
Trump came into the contest with a HUGE advantage: like him or loathe him there’s 300,000,000 Americans who knew his name, knew what he looked like and were familiar with his chosen and carefully developed public persona.
No other candidate came close apart from Hillary Clinton! Truth be told, her public profile is almost certainly why she is the preferred candidate in the Democratic party.
Which Other Candidate Could Equal Trump’s Visibility?
More than that his personal brand is one of the strongest in the United States, and even globally.
If he wants to move some steaks – all he need do is put his name and a photo on the box and a few commercials.
If he wants to get cars for free – all he need do is talk to a nice man at General Motors.
It does not matter that not every project does as well as its promoters hope because every new project build the brand incrementally.
The nearest we have had to Trump is Reagan, a man who similarly was blessed with a public persona and the skill to mobilize his name and visage toward his chosen goals, but Trump is way, way more powerful and accomplished.
Some folks have wondered why it is that he can say stuff that appears crass or ill-informed without suffering any loss in momentum. Well, that’s his brand working for him. All he’s done is behaved as people expected him to do. But, here’s the thing, Trump is a very, very sharp operator and he works with very, very sharp people. His public persona is a mask, it is not the man – although I am sure that the man wears the mask more comfortably than many others do their own.
He is excused for what critics see as shortcomings because to 300,000,000 Americans he is a human and, oddly enough, one they trust and respect – even many who do not like his persona. That’s because he has been consistent for 30 odd years. He has grown up with the electorate, they have seen his wives and envied him for his ‘catches’ I am sure that many women would give their eye teeth for the chance to have him divorce them!
The Battle Of The Brands
So, what we have right now is a battle of the brands. Clinton understand this and it is why she is now turning toward Trump rather than concentrating upon Sanders (although that may come back to haunt her as an error of judgement) Sanders has done an extremely good job of branding himself and his message resonate with probably 70% of the electorate, even if most will not vote for him.
As we move forward, and assuming that Clinton gets the nod as Democratic candidate we are going to see brands battle it out. It will not be about politics but about how we perceive the candidates. Trump is already doing well here. He has already removed the ‘Hilary as woman’ card from the game. Henceforth it will not be a winning move for Clinton to mention gender in respect of her candidacy. Trump was EXACTLY right when he said that without her gender she had nothing and so removing her ability to use it was a masterstroke.
Now that Trump has forced the Republican party to fall in behind him he needs to pay attention to a stab in the back, but he is no fool and, I am sure has that under control.
My guess is that Trump will go to town with Hillary, he will remind us of her dishonesty, her lack of skill, her poor health and he will, I expect, win the general election.
Andrew Wilson – Political Analyst