This was supposed to be Jeb’s year. But I never believed it. I’m trying to figure out The Donald. I think these guys are onto sumptin:
The bottom has fallen out for Jeb Bush. The newest poll of Iowa has Bush at 5 percent. He’s at 7 percent in New Hampshire and 9 percent in South Carolina. As recently as mid-July, Bush sat atop the Real Clear Politics national average, eight points ahead of his nearest competitor at 17.8 percent. Now, he trails Donald Trump and Ben Carson, in third at 9.7 percent.
Bush’s well-documented weaknesses as a candidate — perceived conservative heresies on immigration and Common Core, a politically inconvenient last name – didn’t seem to be hurting him when he was on top seven weeks ago. So what explains his sudden slide?
Alex Castellanos, a former ad-man for George W. Bush’s reelection campaign and a CNN commentator, suggests that frontrunner Donald Trump is making Bush look small.
“Americans are afraid their nation is in decline; they are going to lose the country they love,” Castellanos says. “They want a leader as big as their fears. Right now, a lot of Republicans see that big leader as Trump, and no else is at the big boys’ table with him.”
Castellanos contends that until a candidate proves he is “big enough” to do the job, nothing else matters — not being a conservative, not being a loyal Republican, not even major policy differences. “What good is policy or ideology if you aren’t big enough to get anything done anyway?”
I gotta admit. I never saw Donald Trump coming.But I wasn’t the only one.
Trump’s successes have come about not because of a brilliant new Contract with America or because he is reassuringly conservative on the issues. His diehard supporters — and even those who would never confess that they derive a perverse and stealthy delight from watching him put down the New York/Washington political and journalistic elite — don’t care that just in the last decade he has flipped on all the issues. They apparently ignore the fact that Trump is often self-contradictory, as he wings his way through endless interviews and blustery press conferences.
What fuels his candidacy is attitude — in particular, disdain for those who undeservedly believe they warrant deference. Behind the bombast and the waving hands, he gives the impression of having contempt for the ruling class, of which he is so intimately a part. He winks at us as if to say, “I hang out with these people, and, trust me, they are even worse than you suspect.” His voice has the brash accents of the New York sidewalk, rather than a passive-aggressive Ivy League modulation. His narcissism is unlike Barack Obama’s serious sort (e.g., “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director”). Indeed, Trump’s egotism is a caricature of narcissism itself, in which the only adjectives are superlatives and the only measure of being “great” and “a winner” is net worth or celebrity. Yet somehow TRUMP plastered over everything does not bother people as much as Barack Obama’s faux-Greek columns, Latinate mottos, and promises to cool the cosmos.
Trump sized up a favorable landscape in 2015–16, and he grasped that the dissatisfaction arose from more than Obama’s profligate borrowing, amnesties, no-growth economic policies, lead-from-behind and reset foreign policies, and hands-up-don’t-shoot racial posturing. The populist furor was also fueled by style. Voters are tired of the DNA of professional politicians, the 24/7 politically correct equivocation, the “I take full responsibility” media pseudo-apology, and the Pajama Boy nasal snarkiness.
Trump has had the skills to turn the primary campaign so far into a war of raw emotion. He channels General George S. Patton — who practiced his facial expressions in front of the mirror and whose line about preferring to kill rather than die for your country Trump recalibrated in his tasteless attack on John McCain. Trump understands that an army really does not march just on its stomach, but is fueled by its emotions.
Anyone who has sales experience knows that most buying decisions are made emotionally. If you are a realtor you put a couple drops of vanilla extract in the oven and turn it on low and make the whole house smell like cookies. Prospective buyers walk in and immediately make an emotional connection to their childhood.
Then all you have to do is let your prospects talk themselves into buying. Sometimes it’s just a matter of not letting them talk themselves out of buying.
There is a sales technique called the “warm puppy.” Let’s say you have a (prequalified) middle-aged guy who is thinking of a sensible economy car now that the kids are grown and gone. Have him test drive a sports car, like a Mustang or a Corvette. Let him take it home overnight.
If you hand someone a warm puppy, they don’t want to put it down.
Donald Trump is a salesman. He knows how to push people’s buttons. Barack Obama hired a bunch of experts to do what Donald Trump has been doing his whole life. Trump is connecting with people emotionally. You cannot defeat emotion with logic.
You can try talking logically to Trump supporters about why they shouldn’t support him until you are blue in the face, but it won’t do any good. You are gonna have to convince them emotionally or he will win.
This is not about intelligence or who is the best informed voter. We’re all human and we are all subject to emotional manipulation. Those of us who are immune to Obama’s “charms” are still human, but for various reasons we never made that emotional connection that seduced so many of our former friends.
The same thing applies to Occupy Wall Street. Remember how Riverdaughter and our old friend RalphB seemed to be seduced by a cult when they went to OWS rallies? Somebody pushed the right buttons.
Here’s another example. Ever know someone who seemed to have their shit together and then they fell in love and their life fell apart? It wasn’t because they were stupid. It was emotion. Young people are generally more susceptible than us old fogies, but we can be stupid too.
Donald Trump did not create the current political climate, but he’s taking advantage of it. It’s like he caught a perfect wave. The question is how far he can ride it.
I just wanted to add that four years ago Mitt Romney made a very good logical case for why he should be POTUS. Obama and Harry Reid spent the campaign telling people that Romney gave a woman cancer and abused his dog and cheated on his taxes.