The election has come and gone. Billionaire real estate mogul Donald J. Trump is now our president-elect.
While the right celebrates, the left has taken to the street to protest. In an ironic twist, it should have been Hillary Clinton and her supporters being asked if they’ll accept the results of the election, not Donald Trump.
As I have come to learn this political season, politics is simply a game of persuasion. There’s a pool of voters – both registered and unregistered – that candidates have to work to persuade them towards voting for them (or at least against their opponent.)
At the end of the day, the better persuader usually wins.
It’s clear that in this election, Donald Trump was the better persuader.
Adage has a good piece about Hillary Clinton’s advertising strategy. Their premise being that her campaign’s messages were “tone deaf.”
It seemed like every ad that Clinton and her allies released in the ensuing months was simply a variation on the theme that Donald Trump is a big jerk. In fact, as recently as Sunday, Clinton’s campaign released a video titled “10 minutes of Donald Trump demeaning, objectifying, and insulting women.”
Whereas Trump’s campaign released dead-simple, exceedingly traditional ads related to Big Issues.
Clinton successfully branded Trump as Hitler, capitalizing on Trump’s penchant for belittling opponents, his braggadocio, hyper alpha masculinity, and his sometimes-extreme policy proposals.
However, what Trump did during the campaign was simply a lesson in persuasion at its highest level.
As Scott Adams, trained hypnotist, wrote:
Pacing and Leading: When normal politicians change their minds we label it flip-flopping or – more kindly – “evolving” in their thinking. When a Master Persuader does it, you are seeing pacing and leading, which is a major tool of persuasion. Pacing involves matching people – in this case emotionally – and later using that bond to lead them. We see Trump doing this often.
a. Trump paced his base by saying he would deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. Once he had his base on his side emotionally, he led to them to his current policy of deporting only the people who committed crimes while here. Have you heard any Trump supporters complain about it lately?
b. Trump paced his base by saying he would ban all Muslim immigration to stop terrorist infiltration. Once he had them on his side emotionally, he led them first to a ban on specific problem countries, and then again to “extreme vetting,” which is a lot like Clinton’s plan. Trump supporters followed, and you don’t hear them complaining.
Humans are irrational creatures. They make decisions off of need, desire, and fear.
Was Trump’s call for a complete shutdown of Muslim immigration extreme? Yes. But in the context of persuasion, he was simply meeting the emotional needs and fears of many Americans at the time.
Think about the major terrorist attacks that made global news during this campaign: Orlando, Nice, Brussels, Paris. All committed by Islamic terrorists. Couple that with the ever looming threat of terrorism stemming from ISIS and other radical jihadists and the very real fear for many Americans was near must be at an all time high against Islamic terror.
The original proposal of shutting down Muslim immigration was meant to match Americans’ fears so they could be led to a more rational position.
As of now, Donald Trump’s position is akin to having more extensive vetting of potential refugees, especially from terrorism-laden countries. That is very reasonable.
Donald Trump is also a bully. But look at who he bullies: his opponents, those who attack him first, and those who distort his views.
He labeled his opponents with nicknames to humiliate them. It’s great persuasion. Lyin’ Ted, Liddle Marco, Crooked Hillary, Low Energy Jeb. They’re all names that have an element of truth to them. They stick because in your mind you agree with at least the premise. Lyin’ Ted: all politicians lie. He has instantly discredited any attacks from Ted as smears from a liar. Same with Liddle Marco: any attacks fro Marco are now framed as simply attempts from a lesser trying to punch upwards. Crooked Hillary speaks for itself. And Jeb did have low energy. He is a soft spoken southerner who have a bit of malaise to him. In comparison to the loud, boisterous Trump, Jeb looked uninterested in his candidacy. Go watch an old debate with that in mind.
Trump also attacks after he’s been attacked. Recall that in one debate, he jokingly said to Ted Cruz, “you better not attack” when asked about the detente the two had shared to that point. Cruz went onto attack Trump first and Trump responded likewise. The same goes with Marco Rubio, “I’ve been nice to Marco” Trump said early on in the primaries. Then Marco attacked the size of Trump’s hands, and, well, you know the rest.
As to those who attack Trump’s views one has to look no further than the media. Just look at the complete meltdown that the media has had in the past two days. “Where did we go wrong?” is a typical talking point in opinion pieces and on roundtables. Even CBS News has admitted to the deafness the media had: “The unbearable smugness of the press.”
Nearly everyone can agree that the media was blindingly one-sided in this election. Media watchers constantly showed how their was more coverage of the Trump Tapes than there was to Wikileaks. That there was an incessant need for Donald Trump to disavow any and all crusty bottom feeders like David Duke who would not even have a voice if not for the media. How would we even know what David Duke and nobodies were saying if not for the amplification of their voice by the media?
The media bullied Trump, so he fought back.
Even the Rosie O’Donnell beef was started by Rosie first. But when O’Donnell suffered a heart attack, Trump was quick to offer his well wishes. The fight is only fair and fun when the opponent is equal.
.@Rosie, get better fast. I'm starting to miss you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2012
I return to my main point: the Clinton campaign was very successful in branding Trump as Hitler because of his bullying tactics. In politics, we don’t normally see a bully rise to prominence. It breaks the norms of politics.
But Trump wasn’t a politician until then.
In actual examination, we see that Trump simply was taking on his foes like other politicians. But instead of battling it out through policy and experience differences, he used his celebrity, linguistics, and tenacity to fight to take them down.
The cheap attack of labeling Trump as Hitler is just that: cheap. It lessens the importance and significance of actual dictators like Hitler who were maniacal and killed countless numbers of people.
You may disagree with his politics, but Trump will be your president in just over 2 months. He deserves at least your support, as he has the interests of the country in mind. To call him Hitler a) confirms the hypnosis done by the Clinton campaign on you and b) would make you morally responsible for stopping Hitler. Unless you truly believe that and are willing to do it, then you are simply lying to yourself and cannot rationalize the cognitive dissonance.
So please, stop calling Trump Hitler. He’s not.
Also published on Medium.
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