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A Republican's Urgent Letter To Donald J. Trump
An American Story
Mr. Trump, I write to you from the perspective of a lifetime Republican from the Midwest. Born to a set of young, yet optimistic and hard working parents who believed in the American dream. I was born in the mid-1960's, located in a Mid-American manufacturing town. Some of my earliest political memories were the Carter years and the tumultuous affect his economic policies had on our nation and my family. Even as a young boy, I can recall speaking to my father about mortgage rates and how those rates were hitting record highs of 18% or greater. Not an excellent time for our country.
You see, my father was a phenomenal salesperson. He was one of the town's top Realtors year over year. As a young boy, it was exciting to see my dad’s picture on billboards around town and ride in the only company provided car for a Realtor in my entire city. It was a perk my father enjoyed knowing he earned. He was a bit of a small town celebrity at local restaurants and on account of his 15 years of volunteer basketball coaching, he was well known at the local YMCA and Boys Clubs around the city. But all that changed when the economy turned south. My dad’s entire real estate investment portfolio and way of life came crashing down. We lost everything. We moved from our idyllic Midwestern home to the Southwest because the manufacturing base of our community came to an abrupt halt. Real estate sales dried up; everyone was selling, and no one was buying. In fact, it was so bad I remember seeing bumper stickers on cars saying, “Last One Out of Town, Turn Out The Lights.”
We started over in our new Arizona home with fresh optimism like much of America under the leadership of a new president, Ronald Regan. From Regan on, I knew, without a doubt that conservative principles including country first, rugged individualism, fiscal responsibility, religious values, military strength, social empathy, and hope for better days were a set of principles I could anchor too. I use the word anchor purposely and will circle back on that later.
Nevertheless, I want to tell you…
I Can Guarantee You Will Win This Election
Foretelling a victory is risky. However, I’m firmly convinced I can guarantee you a win. Allow me to explain. All elections are simply a numbers game. I do not mean to take lightly the right to vote, the motivations tied to candidate support, or the incredible power of each vote. However, a simple analysis dictates, elections are based upon societal patterns, hence statistical averages a.k.a. mathematics. Allow me to expand on this thought. I will, for the sake of space and most recent historical relevance, limit the discussion to the past four elections. Please see the chart below, which shows the Presidential voting statistics for the years 2000-2012.
We can expect roughly 40% of the current 324 million Americans to vote this election cycle. Mr. Trump, I firmly conclude you will need to secure 66 million votes to win the Presidency. This would amount to 51% of the voting public. As you can see, this would be more votes than any Republican candidate in history. A big hill to climb but you can accomplish it.
Here is where the opportunity meets your preparation. The above statistics do not indicate if a voter was a Democrat, Republican, or Independent at the time of the vote, but rather which candidate (Democrat or Republican) they ultimately voted for. This is critical and directly connected to the next bit of data.
I am a...
A Major Cultural Shift
We are in the midst of a significant cultural shift, and I'm very certain you are aware of this, which in part, I believe is the reason you decided to run at this time. [Brilliant decision by the way.] As this trend continues, I predict we will see a non-major party candidate win the Presidency within my lifetime. Mostly fueled by social media as the mainstream media loses influence through its continuous disparaging death spiral feeding on a smaller and smaller base of activists.
As you can clearly see both Democrat and Republican identifiers are at historic lows yet, self-identified Independents are at a record high. This is a tremendous opportunity for you to speak to a majority of the population that is “open” to move either direction. The anchors are not deeply set. It is incumbent upon you to secure their loyalty and vote.
The next set of data clearly shows the ‘leaning' preference weights for your opponent. When Gallup pressed the loyalties a step further, you can see voters jumped off the fence; Republicans still trail by a few percentage points. Lest anyone feel a few percentages are not a big deal, three percentage points equate to nearly 4 million people. When looking at it in these terms, you can see things from a more serious light.
Accordingly, you can see the Gallup statistics show your opponent securing about 45% of the voting population. Which in turn gives her 58 million votes. You most likely will not be able to change that number. These voters will vote Democrat no matter what you say or do. In fact, I believe these voters to be so entrenched that even if you were on the Democratic ticket, you would automatically win their vote. This group of people is what I call a sequestered and inflexible group.
On the opposite side, you are secure with about 42% of the voting population. This gives you approximately 55 million votes. Again, no matter who was on the Republican ticket these voters would more than likely support that candidate as well. The only difference would be if your opponent were on the Republican ticket I could safely say she would not have their support in any fashion. Republicans tend to be a bit more merciless and unforgiving of their candidates with higher expectations of being Presidential. This last set of data clearly shows what I believe to be what you need regarding real votes calculating the base votes mentioned above.
Mr. Trump, to be very clear you need 11 million of the 17 million yet to be secured voters to win this election.
This unsecured voter cluster is a combination of smaller groups of slightly anchored Democrats and Republicans but mostly consists of loosely anchored Independents. At the end of the day, you need to outpace your opponent at a rate of 1.8 to 1. In other words, for every unsecured voter, your opponent wins over you need to secure 1.8 new voters. This is a distinct advantage for your opponent and one she is keenly aware of.
Anchoring A Guaranteed Win
Mr. Trump, I would much rather be in the position of your opponent on account of her finish line being much closer. However, I would much rather be you on account of a superior message that resonates with the American people. As mentioned earlier, your path to victory is guaranteed. Allow me to explain.
It seems people want to know what your platform is rather than what you are against. I believe this desire comes from our inherent optimism and belief that our best days are still ahead of us. We tend to support the candidate that best connects with our internal feelings.
However, everyone has a personal political story, and we anchor to those stories. We can thereby conclude many of us have developed a political perspective that anchors toward a particular political leaning connected back to our personal story.
For example, some like myself will vote Republican because we lived through first hand the effects of Democrat and Republican leadership at a young age. Bar some significant shift in general principles or ideology of the party; we will most likely find a regular home within its harbor. Others based on their family structures, life experience, or media messaging have a different political anchor and find safety within the Democratic port. What this means is people like me will naturally seek and support the Republican Party for validation of that optimistic internal drive. However, others whom the Democrat Party has impacted will typically support the same optimistic drive through their respective Party.
Nevertheless, what we see from the Gallup data is that a significant portion of our voting electorate, 42%, is what I call loosely anchored to either political Party. They may jump from harbor to harbor. They do not have a fixed harbor to call home. Most importantly, from a psychological perspective, the emotional attachment to a particular political party connected to their internal drive for optimism is very flat.
Mr. Trump, if you want those loosely anchored voters, you have to give them a reason to anchor with you. When you tap into their innate optimism it does not matter what label you wear; you will capture the 11 million votes you need and more.
As one who enjoys sailing, allow me to illustrate this point a bit further. Imagine for a moment you were on a beautiful 45 ft sailing vessel and were looking for a safe harbor for the night. There are a few things that would be critical in determining a safe harbor. You would check tide conditions, currents, wave structures, wind direction, and ultimately what type of sea bottom existed within the anchorage. If you felt safe, you would most likely drop anchor and enjoy the night. If any one of those five factors seemed off balanced or didn't appear safe, you would continue your search until you found a harbor that did. Allow me to pull two insights from this analogy.
Create A Safe Harbor
First, how do you create a safe harbor?
- You do so by providing a consistent positive message that resonates with the best part of who we want to become as a nation. Did I mention consistent?
- You do so by cutting down the harsh winds of criticism of other people. The American public is well aware of your opponent’s shortcomings and failures. It is not helpful to blow the winds of critique over and over and over again. You need to begin using surrogates for this task. When you participate in negative campaigning, it makes your harbor unsafe.
- Keep in mind; you will always have a base of voters supporting you not because of you, but because of the current label you wear, at least in their minds, as a Republican.
- You create a safe harbor by lifting the tide. You may have heard the saying, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” You should appeal to the best in all of us and show us how our best days are ahead with you at the helm.
- You should openly discuss the programs, policies, or changes you will champion to make our country and every person within its borders, better off in four years than we are today.
- Lastly, it is incumbent upon you to provide an excellent base for our anchor to hold. Nobody wants to anchor in a rocky harbor.
You need to begin reaching out to the 17 million unsecured voters immediately. These people are looking for a stable and solid foundation in which winds are calm, currents are unchanging, and the tide is high. Mr. Trump, you can easily be that safe harbor.
Move Toward The Anchor Points
Second, how do you move those who are already anchored? Thinking back to our sailing analogy, if you anchor in a harbor and someone wanted to move your boat, the last thing they would do is drag or pull your vessel away from the anchor. When you pull or drag an anchor, it sets deeper into the sea bottom. The net effect is damage to the yacht.
The best and most efficient way to move an anchored vessel is to move the ship closer to its anchor. When done properly the anchor chain can easily be reeled back into the boat, and the anchor nicely unhooks itself from the sea bottom. Consequently, there is zero damage to the vessel.
The opportunity in this election is to help the 17 million loosely anchored voters in moving their ships closer to their political anchor points, so they can easily lift their anchor. Once the anchor lifts, their boat is free to seek out a new harbor, preferably yours.
Sacred and Secular Environments
Having been a minister for fifteen years, and in business leadership for over ten years, allow me to recommend a few bits of wisdom from the Bible that, I believe, will infuse nicely into your ultimate goal. I have found these four principles beneficial in both secular and sacred environments.
1. “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” - Proverbs 26:4
Stay on message with your campaign. Don’t allow those in the media who seek nothing but gotcha type answers from their tricky questions. Don't take the bait. If some left-leaning reporter, which is most of them, asks you a foolish question, just pivot away from the question and talk about the message of your campaign. Unfortunately, real journalism is dead in our country, but that does not preclude you from wisely staying away from questions that only seek to damage your image and ultimate message.
2. “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” - I Peter 3:5
You are superb at making a defense for what you believe but take a look at the last part of this verse, “do it with gentleness and respect.” Take a few moments when you’re answering the questions to slow down the pace of responding. Think before you speak, this will defuse quick responses and ensure the best possible solution. A thoughtful answer is better than a quick answer.
3. “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” - Romans 12:15
Mr. Trump, you have to start showing real empathy for everyday Americans from all walks of life. You are not representing yourself anymore, you’re not representing the 13.3 million primary voters anymore, and you’re not representing the 26% of the population that identify as Republicans anymore. If you want to win, you need to serve every American all the time. Your business successes are amazing, but you have to show empathy for those who are hurting or for those who have sacrificed. It’s ok to say you’re sorry sometimes. It’s ok to say you’re not perfect. Americans are not looking for a perfect President. We are looking for a real President who connects with us on a personal level. Please understand that empathy is not weakness, but a lack of understanding is.
4. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” - Proverbs 29:18
This is a strong suit for you. You need to release a 5 to 10 point plan for America over the next few weeks that delivers a tremendous vision for our country and how you will make it happen as President. We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and that something bigger has to be bigger than just you. That something is greater than you. That something is the American dream. Remember Mr. Trump, should you win this office, the power you receive is only on loan to you from the American people for the next four years. The most efficient and best Presidents understood this principle and tapped into the thoughts and minds of the American people with a tremendous vision full of optimism and hope.
I think Mr. Trump should focus on...
Mr. Trump, I started out this letter telling you that I could guarantee you a win. In fact, I still believe I can. The path to victory is simple.
First, create a safe harbor for all people from all walks of life from any political background. Your harbor should be safe, stable, and stress-free. You control your harbor, Mr. Trump. No one is responsible for it but you. Make it a safe one.
Second, like a laser beam, focus on the 17 million unsecured voters. You need 11 million of them to win. In your campaign messaging from interviews, advertising, rallies, and the three upcoming debates, pull closer to their political anchor points by connecting to their inherent optimism for the country and their lives.
Lastly, if you follow the wisdom from the ancient texts, some pretty shrewd colleagues left us clues as to the most efficient way to lead people and earn their support. The four principles outlined above will assure you a victory in November.
You have a superior message. You are an excellent candidate. You now have a clear roadmap that secures your victory. You've taken a recent hit in the polls, but Americans always root for the underdog and always love a good comeback story. Remember, every single person from now till Election Day has a political story. It is incumbent upon you to tap into that story, connect with the most important parts of their political views, and provide a safe anchorage within your harbor to call home. Good luck and Godspeed Mr. Trump, you have my vote.