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Donald Trump: Unlikely Class Warrior
From a public relations standpoint, class warfare is supposed to have a cement narrative: the haves versus the have-nots, the richest versus the downtrodden, with everyone in the middle as the market each side hopes to pull toward their perspective.
But every once in awhile someone switches sides. Typically, it’s a “Robin Hood” story – the nobility breaking ranks to protect the common man. There’s something of this dynamic in the rise of Donald Trump. On the surface, he’s not the guy you would think far right Republicans or working class independents would support. He’s mega-rich. He’s a New York power player, a second-generation tycoon who admits to using the system to his advantage. He’s flipped on every policy position important to Red State voters, and he freely admits lavishing campaign cash on a long line of political candidates, as well as being friendly with the Clintons.
Yet this guy is the current front-runner in the GOP primary. How is that even possible. Well, there are a lot of dynamics at work here, but the most important are also the simplest: Trump found a message voters responded too, and he stays on message no matter what.
In railing against “illegals” and Muslims, Trump grabs voters from two distinct – and often opposed – demos, blue collar working stiffs and evangelical values voters. The former are sick of seeing jobs outsourced to Mexico and the latter don’t want any more Islamic influence in the United States. Never mind that Trump never says how he plans to deal with the root causes of these “issues.” Trump’s voters aren’t interested in details. They just want results. They want illegals and Muslims “gone”, and Trump is the candidate promising that the loudest. Again, messaging matters.
The key here is not only packaging a message in a way that connects with the listener but in making it simple enough for that listener to become a carrier. Ask a Trump voter how he will do the stuff he says he will do, and most have no idea … but they don’t expect to know. For many of them, That Stuff is all above their pay grade. They don’t want to know how the sausage is made. And that’s why policy wonks like Jeb Bush are struggling to slow Trump’s rise. While Trump makes promises, Jeb tries to explain things.
But many voters don’t want things explained right now. They don’t like how things are, and they want it fixed. And at least one-third of the GOP voters are pinning those hopes on a guy who, ordinarily, represents everything they would never trust. But as much as his opponents want to make this election about who Trump is, the voters don’t want to hear it. They want results, so they are hitching their wagons to a guy who, they believe, knows how to win.
Roman Temkin is a real estate developer from NYC.