The Media isn’t to blame for Trump’s rise in the polls.
That would be too simple. Not to mention insulting to Trump himself.
See, Trump isn’t stupid.
He’s a smart guy.
He’s also a businessman, which means he knows a thing or two about selling. More specifically, getting people to buy his product.
And as we all know. Politics is a selling game. You’re trying to sell a message to your constituents. Your message is what gets you elected.
Trump is selling.
He’s selling marvelously.
The poll numbers are evidence to that.
Yet, we’re supposed to believe that Trump’s rise is a result of media hype.
“It’s the media’s fault!” the experts say.
I’m leaning toward another explanation: Trump’s an expert in persuasion.
Here’s what I mean…
The Media is only a Tool (& They can’t Make You Buy Something You Don’t Want)
There’s an old marketing adage that fits this perfectly.
You can’t get someone to buy something they don’t want.
The same goes for the media. They can’t get people to believe in something they don’t want.
This is why blaming the media for Trump’s rise is misguided. The media can only do so much. A better description of their role is they’re a tool. The media made the Trump situation worse, but they didn’t cause it.
Trump, like any good businessman and master persuader knows how to utilize the media. He knows how to use them to his advantage.
Trump’s Hit the Perfect Storm
With a combination of weak candidates, economic status, and fed-up-ness of voters it’s no surprise Trump has risen like he has.
The competition is lukewarm at best.
It’s politicians vs. an eccentric businessman. Who do you think’s going to win?
Trump is playing to the economic worries that many Americans are feeling. And he’s painting himself as an alternative to the status quo political system. His brash, boisterous attitude is new and exciting for many voters who are sick of the polite do-nothingness of Washington.
Another marketing phrase comes to mind: sometimes it’s not a matter of how good your product is, or how well you marketed it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of circumstances surrounding it.
Obviously Trump’s rise is more than circumstance, but he is benefiting from a perfect storm.
“Make America Great Again:” It’s the Perfect Slogan
Have you ever noticed how benign Trump’s slogan is?
Why is America no longer great? Why does it need to be made great again? What happened to the greatness? Who doesn’t want America to be great? What is American greatness?
You probably have an answer for all those questions. It’s Obama’s fault. It’s Big Government’s fault. It’s China’s fault.
But guess what? It’s another persuasion tactic.
A broad undefined slogan. It evokes a feeling of loss with a slight ting of optimism. As Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert comic strips points out on his blog…
“Trump’s slogan about taking back America speaks to loss while retaining the optimism that we can get it back. That is pure, engineered, persuasion perfection.”
“Trump’s slogan should, by design, make every voter spontaneously imagine the one thing they believe they have lost. It could be anything, from personal privacy to job opportunity to whatever. If you are afraid you lost it, Trump’s slogan makes you think of it automatically. And you just automatically paired your emotional sense of wanting something precious with … Donald Trump.”
Trump’s slogan is specifically meant to let you define what’s great. It’s a fill in the blank slogan, meant to draw you in.
I think he’s done a darn good job so far with it.
Trump is a Master at Playing the Media for All They’re Worth
During the first republican debate, Trump showed his mastery of the media.
When Megyn Kelly asked him about his offensive comments about women, Trump didn’t try to address it.
If he had defended his comments, the media would’ve torn him apart. If he clarified what he meant, the media would’ve torn him apart.
It’s a lose-lose situation.
The only option is to throw in your own comment. Distracting the media and the audience at the same time.
Don’t fight on the battlefield of their choosing. Pick your own battlefield.
He threw in a crazy comment about Rosie O’Donnell and owned the headlines after that. He played the media, and they fell for it.
He’s done this time and time again with the media. All with amazing success.
How do We Apply What We’ve Learned from Trump to the Cause of Freedom?
Let’s get rid of all the nasty loud-mouth behavior that Trump is known for. Just focus on the main principles behind his tactics.
He’s created a movement that’s not heavily defined or detailed.
He’s interacted with the media and other figures on his own terms.
To you and me, that means a few things…
- Our movement needs to be inclusive (or at least, not heavily defined with rhetoric, terms, and buzzwords)
- Generic descriptions and words that evoke meaning in people regardless of political affiliation are key
- The media is a tool that can help us if used properly (but they aren’t a friend)
- Personality trumps words and phrases
Now to apply these points…
No one cares about Mises, John Locke, or the Founders. Those people are buzzwords used by insiders to identify with each other. They hold no importance to those outside of the fold. Sometimes they can push outsiders away. That’s not what you and I want.
Freedom needs to be defined by words that any American can identify with. Any American, if randomly given this description of Freedom would support it.
Leave the rhetoric to the snobby academic think tank theorists. They don’t change things anyway.
Aim for words that evoke emotion.
The media isn’t our friend, duh. But don’t dismiss them entirely. Like Donald Trump, we can use the media to push the movement of Freedom For All.
I think Uber does this well. They’re literally breaking the law in many cities. But they keep doing it, and as a result gain media attention.
Granted, Uber isn’t a Freedom entity in itself. They do represent a facet of Freedom that you and I support: the right to innovate and compete (and earn an honest living).
The marijuana movement is another example. They’ve breached party lines. People on both sides of the aisle support legalization. This movement has gained national attention (and acceptance) thanks to the media (both formal and informal).
And lastly, personality. Personality is the biggest weapon we have.
Being real, personal, entertaining. That connects with people. It lets them know you’re real, that you care.
Someone that knows you personally is more likely to believe you and trust you.
Freedom needs real people to be the face of the movement. It needs individuals who truly care about those around them.
The face of Freedom is the face of you and me.
Trump’s got the personality part down. He knows how powerful of a persuasion tactic it is.
Let’s take a lesson or two from his book, and move the movement of Freedom forward.
What do you think? Can we learn from Trump, utilizing his persuasion tactics to reach more Americans for Freedom? Leave your comment below.