As I said yesterday, Donald Trump will win the Presidency.
This article is still about letting you come to terms with such reality.
I put money where my mouth was.
Ok, I’m not a US citizen so I cannot vote for Donald Trump.
Next best thing, I bet money on his victory!
It was in July 2015: 16 months ago. I caught wind of the fact that Trump, a man I barely knew something about, had launched his campaign for the Presidency.
Up to that point I considered him a minor nuisance, one of those vapid tv celebrities slash narcissistic yet funny looking guy slash megalomaniac entrepreneur.
I saw him stealing the scene in the 2012 Presidential Elections with a useless attack against Obama (requesting a disclosure of personal records and, again, the damn birth certificate!). The ensuing media storm IMHO turned out to be a (Democrat-)welcomed diversion, turning people’s eyeballs away from more substantial matters. Maddening (almost).
And yet, back to 2015. After I listened to Trump’s Presidential Announcement, it almost immediately dawned on me: this man is gonna become the next US President!
Therefore in those days I was scrambling to find a website where I could bet on his victory, since not many betting agencies accepted politics-themed wagers, and most are not legally permitted to operate in Italy. I almost gave up.
Then on July 22, half-heartedly searching again, I found the suitable agency. Ironically, it was an ex sponsor of my beloved soccer team, Genoa. And yet I had failed to think of them up to that moment, wasting maybe a couple of weeks.
In the event of Trump becoming President they were still paying a whopping 51 to 1! When I tried to place my bet the betting odd was immediately lowered to 31 to 1. I had to accept the substantial cut. Still, I can’t complain… :-)
On the first half of September me & my wife got a fantastic vacation across the Atlantic, visiting the US East Coast. All expenses covered thanks to Donald Trump, in essence, if (when) I cash the money proceeds from the wager!
On the one hand, I feel bad for the action itself: betting (worse, advertising such action on my blog!). Up until recently I wasn’t prepared to reveal this.
On the other hand, this is an effective means to show my insight and perspicuity, in the face of Very Important Pundits insisting on the impossibility of the events unfolding in front of them.
Oh well, I’ll brag. After all, pride is one of my most egregious sins.
You may object it’s imprudent to claim victory before the election, but again, it’s a calculated risk. I need to show this in-your-face approach, to let liberals face the fact that people were running circles around them.
Now obviously I can’t be objective about The Donald’s prospects of triumph: I literally put money where my mouth is. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
I must tell you though: throughout last year I had lots of fun laughing at the media consistently failing to understand the Trump phenomenon. Endless predictions of doom due to supposedly unbearable self-inflicted damage, followed by even more outrageous successes. To a large extent they still don’t get it, although they now are forced to face the concrete possibility of his election.
Donald Trump is playing a completely different game.
Do you really think Trump can’t afford a top hair stylist, or that he doesn’t understand that people find his hair funny looking? Think again. He’s one step ahead of you. His hair helps, because it gives you a false sense of security, feeling superior and underestimating his abilities. If you think he’s a buffoon, he’ll catch you off-guard.
Trump’s candidacy run has been an amusing yet instructive tale you enjoy retelling, like a parable: a long parade of people looking down on him and eventually losing badly, without even understanding what hit them.
In retrospect, the 2012 Trump birth certificate fiasco was more of a dry run, to try and check how momentous a following he could get, with a message that gets people’s guts but not exactly their brains.
It seems he was creating/pursuing opportunities for controversy while avoiding the low hanging fruit: his signature attacks on adversaries (usually) couldn’t be based on their most egregious flaw or scandal, because then a lot of pundits, observers and conservative politicians would have chimed in and added their perspective, thus making Trump one among many.
So, why discuss flawed Obama policies when you could be the only prominent figure still fixating on his birth certificate? Then the subject became a pretext, an emotional and divisive hook to talk about the real topic: Donald Trump. People siding with him became his defenders; not just agreeing on issues but personal supporters. Polarizing the public, drawing focus on himself. This is pure Trump.
One of the best examples of Teflon Don fooling the media system was that occasion in which some anonymous source leaked a recording of a very old phone conversation, where the recognizable voice of Trump was pretending to be his agent. Newscasters were all over it, and for a day everyone was talking about how Donald pretended to be someone else while being interviewed on the phone in the 90s. Turns out the interviewer lost the tape, so that the only possible source of the leak was Trump himself!
You have to admire the brilliance. He got lots of free media coverage, journalists attacking him for a petty and inconsequential event of the past (which is only damaging to their credibility), plus a splendid excuse to chime in: “Oh, but since you are so eager to unearth misdeeds from a distant past, why don’t you discuss all the past Clinton scandals?” :-O
Bonus: on top of that, supporters were OK with his lying about that voice not being his; more than that, they were enjoying it! That’s not an easy trick to pull!
Of course, since we are talking about past (alleged) misdeeds, in 2015 I couldn’t predict all the women accusing him of sexual assault at a crucial turning point in the electoral cycle. Although we all knew women were his Achille’s heel. This is a topic that deserves a separate article.
After Trump became the front runner, he changed his pace, focusing on what people wanted to hear and doing the exact opposite of what Republicans always do: challenge the system, challenge the flawed premises, attack the supposedly neutral anchor or moderator that was framing him in the usual losing position. His brazen, unrefined, harsh approach is the ideal tactic for this time and age.
Trump is very good at what he does: winning with the audience. Scott Adams, the successful cartoonist and controversial blogger, ran a very long series of blog articles focusing on persuasion and what makes people click. He rightfully saw in Trump a Master Of Persuasion. Scott said that Donald is playing 3D chess while all the others are seeing things in 2D.
Predicting a President Trump before almost everyone else. Well, technically he predicted a Trump victory in August 2015, I did it in July, so I’m ahead. Too bad I discovered his brilliant work on the subject only this summer. It’s also a pity I didn’t get the resolve to start a blog until recently.
Donald Trump is playing the same old game
Trump is a politician. Repeat with me: Trump is a politician. And a very sophisticated, experienced one, (not so) surprisingly good at that!
Sure, he’s not playing by the book. But that just tells you why he’s so good.
We now full well how part of his appeal lies in presenting himself as an outsider, who is mad at Washington insiders exactly like you, and wants to put some street smarts and common sense in Government, New York style.
Yet, he understands the subtleties of diplomacy and tried to navigate with great peril and cautiousness the infested waters of the Republican Party, avoiding a direct confrontation until the last month or so. Sometimes you may have a finer grasp of the situation than your supporters, knowing when to pretend to like and get along with your (not so) secret enemies.
Politicians are good at one thing: winning elections. They are quite specialized for the job.
“All talk, no action” is one of the most famous Trump slogans against politicians. And yet all he did, for some 1.5 years, was talking. And talking. And talking. Like a true politician. That’s modern campaigning.
He’s good at it. Again, I got it right from listening to his first speech: the fact that he gives speeches that don’t sound prepared, where he meanders back and forth and jumps from a topic to the other, is just one of the factors that create his secret sauce of persuasion. It’s a style that reminds me of good joke tellers.
And paradoxically, the fact that he’s mostly repeating the same tried lines and ideas, time and again, is also endearing, because people crave for the moment when they’ll get to hear again that particular story they liked.
When he delivers a prepared speech he can still make good use of the cunning of his writers, with a change of pace and with some gravitas, and people won’t mind.
He sounds authentic and having the general, practical grasp of any significant policy matter, in a way similar to what most of his supporters feel they got it, even if the actual details may still be murky and dubious in their practicality.
What I saw in him
Critics think he is a populist, exploiting the gullibility of the unwashed masses.
The truth is, he saw a large opening, one that in some ways clicks with what he always thought as a businessman, and he went for it.
I remember reading from one of Trump’s media enemies (I’m sorry, I don’t remember the source) that the inspiration for the main issue of his campaign, the fight against illegal immigration and the promise to build a wall between USA and Mexico, was taken from Ann Coulter’s book Adios America. But crucially, according to this critic’s rendition of Coulter’s words, Trump didn’t like the idea of fighting illegal immigration per se; more precisely, he was very interested in the concept of millions of Americans potentially being fired up by this battle, thus ready to give a massive support to anyone championing this cause. Got it? He’s not sincere. He just exploited a popular idea…
As the very same Ann Coulter and Mark Steyn said at the time, the quickest way to get rid of Trump is to steal his issue and run with it.
But they didn’t, because the Washington idea of politics is pretending to represent the electorate while imposing on everyone predefined policies that wouldn’t get the approval of the majority. Including de facto open borders.
The thing is, Trump as a businessman saw a large untapped market, a request for a product (sensible policies reflecting the will of a majority, mostly conservatives but not just conservatives) that wasn’t otherwise available. And he gave it to them! Is this bad somehow?
It’s not a cynical calculation! Especially when the idea grows on you, as it did on Trump, and you observe how stupid and dishonest the talking points of the adversaries become, while they are trying to contrast this man-of-the-street wisdom.
This is the kind of novel approach that is bound to give huge dividends in a time like this, where discontent with the ruling class is at very high levels worldwide.
That’s one of the main reasons why I expected this unexpected outsider rise to happen.
Donald Trump has the purest possible of all motives: narcissism.
Any politician could proclaim that what motivates them is love for their country and wanting it to succeed and prosper. Here Trump is no exception.
But how could you possibly gauge their actual motive?
Especially in the past, some may have proudly proclaimed that they were married to a political ideology, and they saw it as the key to solve all societal problems. Nowadays ideologies sound a bit stale/flawed and dangerous to most voters, hence they are visibly relegated to the backbench, so to speak.
This makes political speeches even more vapid, because every candidate is about some vague better future, non-controversial reforms, and supposedly being more competent, honest and effective than their opponent(s).
Ideologies still poison the minds of politicians, causing them to adopt self-defeating policies, though.
Most can’t resist the appeal of money: they are bought and they sell favors. That’s bad.
But the strongest motivation of all, one that usually isn’t even apparent to politicians themselves, is the act of going with the flow.
If you are an extremely competent and intelligent analyst, you have stellar debating skills, charisma, courage, deep knowledge and creative lateral thinking, by going against the grain you’ll get creamed by your opponent 90% of the time, at least in the eyes of media-tamed audiences. If instead you are a mediocre talker with no original ideas, but you make a decent impression on a stage and keep yourself aligned with the received wisdom, you’ll do great, and the journalists will watch your six.
Ambition is a common trait in a politician, but there are many other factors in play. Greed of course; ideology, as I said; mostly conformism and the need to return favors. Ambition here doesn’t add anything, it’s just an extra flaw.
Trump’s ambition is different. He doesn’t need more money. When you get over a certain level, money disappears from your worries, it becomes abstract numbers, positions, power. And the call to get to power, to him, is just the will to pass into the annals of history as a great statist.
Wanting to leave a mark in a moment where you find an opening to raise to the top by chastising the corruption of Government and finally becoming the voice of the people, proposing policies that do away with decadent, self-defeating nonsense: that’s the purest and most realistic shot you have at an ideal politician!
I pity those fools that are afraid of a dangerous Trump potentially causing a World War or launching nuclear attacks. If you follow the reasoning I just expounded here, he’s the least likely politician you’ll ever find to do such a thing! Because he only cares about popularity and the ultimate judgment of history!
An ideal combination of factors
Hillary Clinton is quite obviously a flawed, weak candidate. So much so that I surmise it was apparent from the beginning she should lose to a doorknob, let alone any competent opponent.
If you don’t immediately agree, try to honestly consider this: how many people do you know who could earnestly say they would choose her as President, if given a slightly larger set of choices?
She is universally disliked. And this has nothing to do with the recent revelations of scandals and investigations. She was the worst candidate ever even before it all began.
If you exclude those few who are set to directly, personally benefit from her election, essentially everyone, from the extreme left to the extreme right, despised her and for assorted reasons.
This simple fact is masked by the fact that millions of Americans see in her the standard bearer of the Democratic Party: they would vote for anyone who’s the Dem candidate; she just happens to be the Chosen one, hence they oblige. Ex post facto many try to rationalize their “choice”.
What I couldn’t predict was how many Democrats are actually choosing to change sides or at least vote against their party.
Forget for a moment about the fire and brimstone scenario caused by her hypothetical ill-advised, divisive, self-destructive anti-American tenure as President.
After all a staunch liberal could tell you: “You said similar things about Obama’s election. And yet, see? The sky didn’t fall on our heads!” Well, hold that thought. The situation has become way worse than you are perceiving.
The essential problem lies in the democratic process itself.
If she were to win, you’d get the US Supreme Court to become a huge issue: a body of extremely powerful judges for life, answering to no one, and married to an Anti-American ideology, due to Hillary putting there a strong majority of leftists.
But more importantly, you’d get the Democrats to import enough foreigners, indebted to their benefactors and predictably inclined to vote for their party, to reshape US demography and completely obliterate any chance of the Republicans to ever get to power again. Turn Texas blue and it’s curtain, folks!
A new nation with no borders, made up of new people, with no discernible common values or legacy, managed by some overbearing central bureaucracy dispensing benefits and regulating life.
Too many Americans understood what’s at stake for the election to go to Hillary and the nation to the dogs. They won’t let her.
Notice this is even before taking into consideration the level of corruption of the Clinton Machine.
Notwithstanding the condescending opposition of the predictable crowd of intellectuals, Hollywood stars and the like, Trump will represent a significant opportunity to turn the tide.
They will cry things like “What have you done! With Trump we are doomed!”. They will insist that the joke’s on you, and now you’ll pay the price for electing a bumbling buffoon.
You know you deserved this chance.
I knew it from last year: America won’t go down like that.