So… what about that Trump, eh?
Jesus. Christ. He’s broken every rule in the book, said things that would get him fired from any other job in any other industry. He has dropped clangers you couldn’t make up. He’s been outrageously and consistently inflammatory, unimaginably bigoted, occasionally a touch racist.
Today I read that the CBC’s Presidential Poll Tracker currently puts Clinton at around 44.7%, and Trump at 42.8%. Those are strong numbers for an orange sack of hate who has upset most of the known world.
So what’s going on? How is Trump operating – and succeeding – in a world that loves a complainer and builds shrines to outrage? How are people on his side? HOW DO PEOPLE LIKE HIM?
After Brexit there was a lot of talk about this being the post-fact age of politics. Don’t even get me started. But it seems to be true in the US as much as in the UK – people aren’t interested in facts, nuance and detail. They don’t want to hear it. They want whitewashing. They demand simplicity.
People flock to Trump because he tells them what they want to hear. Problems are simple. Solutions are simple. It’s not complex, it’s not messy, and it’s not voters’ fault. Trump will sort it, easy. Psychology backs up the idea that people are drawn to authority figures who confidently tell them that their problems are easily fixed.
Sure, there are other factors going on here, but I’ll leave talking about the plight of disenfranchised, under-educated, working-class white Americans to someone with a sounder knowledge of it all. What I’m interested in is Trump’s ability to persuade, to convince and to convert. His speeches are a million miles away from the slick, sound-bite politics of Clinton, but people lap up his rambling invective anyway. His policies are next to non-existent, but people back them.
A lot of America buys in to Trump.
Because he talks big. Because he’s a bloated bag of hot air telling people what they want to hear, and he buys what he’s selling. Problems are easy. Solutions are easy. People who don’t say outrageous things about minority groups are idiots. Trump’s going to make America great again, no worries. Obama’s just been too lazy to do it (and besides he’s probably not even American, right?). Clinton’s too unlikeable to do it, and a woman too… in fact, someone should just shoot her, right? Immigrants are making America shit. Don’t worry though guys, that’s why God invented f*ck-off sized walls. We’ll sort it, not a problem.
Charisma persuades. We’ve got the research to prove that. Confidence persuades, we know that too. Power lies wherever people think it does. I think that might have been Tywin Lannister.
Sales is full of Trumps. Full to bursting with them. Old-school charisma machines, throw-backs who’ve got it all wrong, rolling up to a meeting in their three series, telling the client what they want to hear and walking away with a signature… only to under-deliver later on and lose the client at the first renewal. All balls and no brains. Pure Trump – fur coat and no knickers. Jesus, there’s a mental image.
That needs to change. Because, just like will happen with our Donald, charisma and confidence can only get you so far. Sooner or later people will just say “yeah, OK, let’s go with this guy”, and your Trumpy reps will need to start delivering. And then things will spiral very quickly…
Or maybe I’m wrong… maybe business is gearing up for a post-fact age too? God help us all if that’s the case…
– Tom @WSL