The reason Trump hit just about everyone in the media and punditsphere with the subtlety of a two by four to the back of the head is because we all had convinced ourselves he could not win. It was one of the worst cases of groupthink, herd mentality and confirmation bias we’ve seen in decades.
I went back through everything I’ve ever written about Trump as part of my own soul searching. Somewhere I knew in my gut Trump could win. Back in October of 2015, persuasion blogger and Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams wrote a two-parter called “The Case for a Trump Landslide.” In it, he highlights a couple of issues that Trump could use to leverage his candidacy.
But the issues are irrelevant, because the product Trump was selling is himself. And Trump is a master persuader, Adams claimed. Turns out he was right all along.
July 10, 2015.
I wrote that Trump is the “great white hope of the uninformed voter.” Here I gave four points that would hand Trump the election.
Perhaps the other Republican candidates shouldn’t be so quick to ignore and marginalize Trump. Instead maybe they should build him up a bit, because if the Democrats can successfully take down Trump with his cash, name, and message, it won’t be hard for them to tie the rest of the GOP field to that millstone.
Instead of an embarrassment, Donald might just be the great white hope the GOP is looking for.
I was shouting into the wind. Even I didn’t hear myself. Everyone marginalized Trump. I marginalized him. But my gut was telling me Trump had something. I devoted myself to exposing Trump’s unfitness, but the more I and everyone else exposed, the louder I shouted, the more powerful he became.
He attracted people along the way who worship power and money and believe Trump will make America White Again. It’s abhorrent, but Trump didn’t care because it helped him win. He was running as Biff Tannen, and attracted other Biffs as supporters. My gut told me that the media was mishandling Trump because they couldn’t play his game–they didn’t even know the game he was playing.
September 23, 2015.
I wrote about how Trump devoured “60 Minutes” host Scott Pelley.
Trump is the hate eater; he digests abhorrence and excretes devotion.
“Fascinating,” the Spock in me says, watching Trump effortlessly turn “60 Minutes” host Scott Pelley into Jell-O, then deliver his own sound bite right on cue. It wasn’t even challenging for the master of manipulation, like Bruce Lee playing ping-pong with Nunchucks. Child’s play.
Watch how Trump deflects the conversation away from his own statements and failure to explain his views on President Obama (does Trump think he’s a Muslim? Or is Trump a birther?), and focus on the anonymous questioner.
My gut told me Trump would say anything to get people to believe in him.
So there it is. Trump is the consummate media insider, and a skilled negotiator, able to turn most conversations away from his own goals and desires, and to those things that Trump wishes to highlight.
Trump stays simple. He stays in character. And he makes HIMSELF “a thing.” Because God knows that any other measure used for his fitness to become leader of the free world doesn’t move the needle a femtometer.
Trump has to become the thing he is selling, and he’s very, very good at doing that. And his prime directive, like his speech, is very simple: “When dealing with people, remember that you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” Dale Carnegie said that.
December 2, 2015.
Trump got everyone talking about how Muslims celebrated 9/11. Yes, they did. But not by the thousands in New Jersey like he said.
Normally, from any mortal politician, this would be a death knell: A horrific gaffe with no possible recovery. But Trump isn’t a mortal politician. He makes over-the-top, off-the-cuff statements, refuses to back down, and then forces the press to dig, dig, dig to disprove something obviously untrue, but with enough of a hint of truth that it never really goes away.
In this way, Trump forces his agenda (planned or unplanned) on all of us. He ignites discussion of topics considered too un-P.C. to discuss otherwise. He makes the mainstream media operate outside their “safe space” in obvious discomfort.
And somewhere deep down inside, I love it.
At first I was really skeptical and angry that Trump stuck his foot in his mouth again. But the more that these things progress and have a life of their own, the more I see that Trump starts conversations nobody else would ever have (or would be shut down before it even started).
Then I got carried away trying to get Ted Cruz the nomination. He could have won it, had he and Marco Rubio and John Kasich ever gotten their acts together. One of those three could have beaten Trump had the other two gotten out of the way. I can’t stand Kasich, so that option was gone. I went back and forth between Cruz and Rubio and neither of them demurred.
So Trump barreled through the hole like Herschel Walker inside the 20 yard line.
August 2, 2016.
The polls all showed Trump losing in a general election, and I figured that would frighten the GOP enough to abort his nomination. But they didn’t, and my gut kicked in again. “We’re being played.”
Friends, we’re being played. Trump is running a reality show, not a campaign. He’s producing episodes daily, directing and starring in the show. To understand Trump, we should look to a drama teacher, not a political scientist.
The elements of plot structure are: exposition, conflict, crisis, climax, denouement. We don’t need any more exposition of Trump–he’s been doing it for thirty years. We have plenty of conflict. Now we’re in the crisis. If Trump were producing a drama, it’s exactly where he’d want us.
He’s losing. Losing big. There’s little hope. Trump, the hero, is self-destructing. Then, at some magical moment, there’s this change. Something happens. Rocky gets serious. Superman returns to the Fortress of Solitude. Batman returns to Gotham. We cheer. The villain is defeated.
Trump didn’t care about the polls. He knew his “peeps” and put on the show for their benefit. He knew who he needed to motivate to vote for him.
October 18, 2016.
My gut was right. Even at the end, when it looked like all was lost, I felt that Trump had a fighting chance, and not only that–that he should win.
Something so enormous as to swing North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Nevada, Florida, and one of Pennsylvania or Wisconsin would need to hit the electorate with the force of a tsunami. The list of possible things is rather short, and my imagination pretty limited, so I’ll list what I think would do it.
Then Comey announced the email investigation was back on again (it was on my list).
I had convinced myself that the polls were right, even in the face of warnings that the polls contained massive uncertainty and unproven assumptions. I went with my own confirmation bias, not the polls.
The fact that Trump was elected doesn’t change the reality of who he is, or his supposed fitness for the office (or unfitness). Trump is still Trump. My gut tells me that he will need our prayers, our support, and our help to succeed when nearly everyone thinks he’ll fail. My gut tells me he doesn’t know what he’s in for and that’s troubling.
But my gut also tells me I shouldn’t listen to the groupthink herd telling me how Trump will fail, or become Hitler. He will be everything my guy tells me he is.
Petty, thin-skinned, bombastic, vile at times, cunning, and dissembling. But many liberals will find him less distasteful than Never Trump conservatives.
This time I’ll listen to my gut.