Friday, July 03, 2015

Political Brands 2016: Donald Trump

Every few presidential elections, the American public is treated to an event about as rare as a total eclipse: An independent candidate mounts a serious effort to claim the presidency.  Over the last century, nobody has done it successfully, but they have done effective jobs in determining who did win it.

In 1980, John Anderson launched a bid that nobody saw coming, especially that stupidest president of them all, Jimmy Carter.  Back then, Carter was an inept incumbent who'd basically tripped his way into office by essentially not being Richard Nixon. The American people were sick and tired of Watergate and "the establishment's" dishonesty and promotion of corporate interests.  Sound familiar?  

Jimmy Carter was the "people's president" in 1976, but by 1980, he'd left America in shambles and himself as a worldwide laughing stock.  Ronald Reagan stepped up to run against Carter, with Reagan's main theme being the restoration of America's greatness, lifting its economy, stronger defense and getting America back to basics. Okay, does that sound familiar?

John Anderson entered the race as an independent, whereupon Carter refused to take the national stage when it came time to debate both Reagan and Anderson -- a high profile Democrat refusing to discuss issues.  Well, that should definitely sound familiar.  Eventually, Reagan crushed Carter, but Anderson finished with 7% of the national vote -- after securing Carter's reputation as a sissy during the election.

It happened again in 1992, when businessman Ross Perot -- maybe the shortest man to run for the office -- stood on the stage and twanged about "getting back to basics" while Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush battled it out on the usual waffle-worthy issues.  Perot's arguments were, to be honest, pretty lame. They were simplistic, but they were different enough for him to claim 19% of the national vote -- enough to steal support from Bush and allow Clinton to steal the victory with only 42% of the vote.

So independents don't have to win elections to make a difference.  They just have to influence them. Enter Donald Trump.

While media and leftists love to hate him, everyone needs to pay close attention to him, because he's the perfect fed up candidate.  Like Perot and Anderson, Trump has struck a chord with a broad cross-section of the American public who are tired of dealing with problems not of their making.  They're not gay.  They're not transgender. They're not immigrants. In fact, they're not anything other than simple, basic, hard-working Americans who feel forgotten except when it comes time to pay for somebody else's bill.

Are they justified?  Maybe. But the fact is that they feel justified and nobody is taking up their cause.  Nobody is vocalizing their thoughts or speaking on their behalf -- except for Donald Trump.  Sure, some people submit Bernie Sanders is doing that, but they're wrong: Sanders tells them what he wants; Trump tells them what they feel

Think his hair looks funny?  Happy his business partners terminate relationships?  The media is totally being played by Trump, completely misunderstanding that every time a sponsor drops him, ten more line up to do business with him because they know he speaks for millions of likewise fed up voters. They claim his "brand" is destroyed, but that only proves their ignorance about what branding is and how it works.  

Laugh it up, kids. You may not like him, but Trump is the catalyst that's getting everyone talking about issues nobody really wants to discuss, in very specific terms they'd prefer to avoid. 

At this point, Democrats fear him because he's a force that could send shock waves through the Republican platform.  Republicans fear him because they don't want another Independent handing the election to Hillary Clinton.  So don't kid yourself.  Trump is more effective than you think.

Of course Donald Trump may never make it to the finish line, but at this very moment, millions of marginalized voters are actually beginning to pay attention. And if he's the guy that mobilizes interest, how bad of a thing can that be?


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