As the President of the United States addresses the nation tonight many of us will be tuning in. Many voters may still be asking the question, how did this businessman even win the presidential election?
It is convenient to shun the voices of those that we disagree with by labeling them fools, bigoted or uninformed yet millions of Americans went to polls and voted for Trump in the November 2016 elections. Thus the enigma remains, how did Donald’s Trump victory become a reality even when experienced political pundits could not foretell or see it coming?
When USA Today, conducted a Poll in September 2016 and asked 1000 people to describe Trump in their own words, the most popular response included words like crazy/nuts/idiot/jerk/stupid/dumb/ clown and that Trump is definitely a joke!
Yet, today, Donald Trump is our President. To understand how Trump won, it is important to see what went on with Trump’s campaign events that appealed to the voters.
As a leader. Trump’s success can be attributed to his skill of a collective sense-maker who responded to the perspective of his audience more than any other politician did.
Hence, the new psychology behind Trump’s win, involves a more inclusive technique of leadership skills. We can narrow down Trump’s victory to some of the following analytical approaches.
• Trump enacted identity festivals for his followers where he depicted how he and his followers want the country to be:
A Trump rally involved much more than Trump’s speech. Trump’s rally was a dramatic enactment of a specific vision of a greater America; of how Trump and his followers wanted America to be. A rally would start long before Trump’s arrival. The long wait was a part of the performance. Making Trump appear the leader and savior that people had waited for so long to come and deliver. The wait also provided time for his audience to shape their view about the world. Trump’s security procedures were rigorous. At every spot the audience had to pass through metal detectors where security agents fanned out their gaze and purposefully made eye contact with audience members to check for intruders. As a result, the audience members would join in the exercise too. Just before Trump would deliver his speech, the PA system would broadcast a message telling the audience that if they spotted an intruder they should not stop him but instead start chanting Trump, Trump, Trump… 3 times and the security guards will take care of the matter. This cry would go several times in the rally and often it was because of a false alarm. As a result of this ploy, the audience got induced into thinking that they are under a threat all the time by internal and external forces.
• Trump stumped the media and politicians by calling them out as the most “Dishonest People”:
Trump kept members of the media and politicians segregated from his supporters and legions by discrediting them and calling them “most disgusting” and “dishonest”. Suddenly media and politicians lost its hold on Trump’s supporters. The media, politicians and its establishments became small and insignificant. By making them weak. Trump became powerful to win his supporters over and gather votes. In 2015 a Pew Research Center Report showed that the overall trust in government had fallen from 73 percent in 1958 to only 19 percent in 2015. This fact amplified Trump’s win and Trump used this information to gain votes.
• Trump provided categorical and clear definitions of different groups and their interrelationships that allowed many Americans to connect with:
The 2016 leadership contest for the presidency of United States revealed that the new emerging concept of leadership is not about the character of an individual as a leader since it is the old psychology of leadership. Instead, the new leadership psychology is about an individual who represents himself as a group member and whose success depends on his ability to create and represent a shared sense of ‘us’. Thus, Trump’s standard argument had 3 elements: The first element asserted that America once great now is weak and is constantly humiliated which needs to change. The second element was that different forces inside and outside including Mexico and China that needs to be handled framed America’s decline. In Trump’s views, these countries cheat, are corrupt and have taken the jobs and wealth of ordinary Americans. This argument goes a step further to assert that these external enemies thrive only because of the support they have received over the years from many enemies within like from specific individuals such as Obama, Clinton or his Republican rivals. After identifying the problem, and it’s cause, the third part of Trump’s element of the argument went on to identify the solution for it all i.e.; himself. Through out his speeches. Trump asserted that he is not like any other politician. He knows how to make a deal. Trump categorically positioned himself as the one who is able to restore what America has lost. For instance, in a speech when he stated that China beats United States in trade deals but he beats China all the time!
• Trump established himself as a prototype American leader that gave voice to the millions of common Americans that felt voiceless:
Trump embodied the prototype leader who belonged to the wealthy elite but acted and carried the beliefs and core values of the ordinary American. He embodied the glitch in the system that classified American people into 2 categories. This classification included elites (politicians and wealthy business men) and the ordinary working American class. To emphasize the glitch. Trump never earned the support of the Republican politicians like Mitt Romney or George H. W. Bush during his campaign, which inadvertently added to his success. Trump has always presented himself as the elite. Trump never hid his wealth, and in-fact he flaunted it by talking about it openly in the media. He talked of his numerous golf courses, jets and the towers that he owns around the world. Trump has always dressed in an impeccable way. He has always worn expensive suits and has never dressed down to mix with the common American man yet he uses the undiplomatic and sometimes crude forms of expression that is commonly presented in the working class of Americans. To outline Donald Trump’s position, Donald Trump J.R. once presented his Dad in the following manner during his speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention:” We learned from people who had doctorate in common sense…. it’s why we are the only children of billionaires as comfortable in a DIG caterpillar as we are in our own cars. My father knew that those were the guys and gals that were going to teach us true dignity of hardworking from a very early age.. He knows as a heart of the American dream is the idea that who ever we are, wherever we are from, we can get ahead, where everyone can prosper together.” Therefore, Trump’s wealth acts for him not against him. As proclaimed by Trump himself, he cannot be bought to serve the interests of others, such as those of the international (non-American elite) unlike all other American politicians who can be bought. For instance Clinton was paid to speak to wall Street, but Trump declared that he was free to tell it like it is. Something regularly cited as a source of his strength and a reason why people voted for him.
• Trump’s Campaign Team did their homework on gaining electoral votes:
Trump prevailed in 30 of the 50 States. Trump’s campaign targeted and visited those states that made the difference in the final electoral votes. Battle ground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida voted for Trump despite being predominately considered as Democratic States. It was a feat well planned and flawlessly executed.
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Article by: Ayesha Shafiq
- Why Irrational Politics Appeals: Understanding the Allure of Trump Kindle Editio by Mari Fitzduff (Editor).