Sunday, August 23, 2015

Trump: Finally, someone gets it

Let loose the reptiles
Here’s what I think is a really really good analysis of Trumpmania, from the August 22 New York Times:

But the breadth of Mr. Trump’s coalition is surprising at a time of religious, ideological and geographic divisions in the Republican Party. It suggests he has the potential to outdo the flash-in-the-pan candidacies that roiled the last few Republican nominating contests. And it hints at the problem facing his competitors and the growing pressure on them to confront him, as several, like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, are starting to do.

His support is not tethered to a single issue or sentiment: immigration, economic anxiety or an anti-establishment mood. 

Those factors may have created conditions for his candidacy to thrive, but his personality, celebrity and boldness, not merely his populism and policy stances, have let him take advantage of them.

Tellingly, when asked to explain support for Mr. Trump in their own words, voters of varying backgrounds used much the same language, calling him “ballsy” and saying they admired that he “tells it like it is” and relished how he “isn’t politically correct.”

Trumpism, the data and interviews suggest, is an attitude, not an ideology.

Trump’s opponents – both within the Republican Party, and, as I expect he will, the Democratic Party after he wins the Republican nomination – should take heed of the quote above.

In fact, just as Bill Clinton hammered home the message It’s the Economy, Stupid! during his run, Trump’s opponents should print a huge poster and stick it on every wall of every room they will be in during the campaign to replace Obama.

That placard should read, in big bold red letters, this simple slogan:

Attitude, not ideology

And every speechwriter for Trump’s opponents should carry these three words on little cards in their pockets, and lay the card down next to their keyboards when they start thinking of composing a speech or a witty retort or anything at all for their anti-Trump candidate.

After seven years of No Drama Obama, millions of Americans are yearning for a leader with visible passion running in his veins.  They are uncertain after seven years of Mister Cool just what their leader should say or do.

But one thing they do want: a leader with passion.

Professor Rapaille had it right, when he sat down with his focus groups a few years ago to analyse the archetype of the American presidency: Americans want a Moses:

Rapaille says that when the three parts of your brain conflict with each other, there is no contest – the reptilian brain wins:

The cortex is supposed to bring you the rational dimension to help you have more chances to survive and to reproduce. The problem is that it goes too far into the control of the reptilian, so we lose out on spontaneity. When people say "give me a good reason to love you," do mothers need a good reason to love their children? No, they just do.

This is reptilian, and you don't need a reason.

When the reptilian is up against the cortex, the reptilian always wins. Reality and numbers don't matter. If you do not have a reptilian dimension, you'll never win. Understanding the reptilian dimension is absolutely crucial.

Every communication strategy should have a reptilian, limbic and a cortex aspect.

The American Code for the Presidency:

Rapaille’s focus groups explained the archetype of the American presidency through a code for the president they were looking for:

“We are always changing, always moving forward, always reinventing, and we want a president who can redirect this process.  The president needs to understand what is broken, have a strong idea about how to fix it, and then ‘rebel’ against the problem.”

“As with everything else, the reptilian always wins.  We don’t want our presidents to think too much.  We want them to respond from the gut, to have a strong survival instinct.  The candidate doesn’t need to be extremely reptilian, only more reptilian than his opponent is… We don’t want a father figure.  We want a Biblical figure.”

The Code for the American Presidency is MOSES.

“A rebellious leader of his people with a strong vision and the will to get them out of trouble.” 
[Moses] also made people believe they could do the impossible, eg. George Washington’s ragtag army vs British military; Lincoln overcoming slavery and civil war, Roosevelt and the Depression.  

American’s don’t want some perfect figure, instead they should learn from their mistakes and be better for it.

The leaders are the ‘entertainer in chief.’  Their job is to inspire…  The ‘vision thing’ is critical, as is the ability to get one’s message across and inspire.”

Where does that leave Trump’s Republican opponents, and Clinton?


Clinton is not arousing passion. She comes across as a tightly controlled, cue-card driven, policy wonk, more at home  behind a lecture podium than before a baying crowd of supporters, longing to be swept away on some grand crusade.

Clinton is anti-passion. She is controlled, cerebral. And her messages are not from the reptilian part of Americans’ minds. Trump would eat her up for breakfast if they were running in 2016.

Sanders is eating her up for breakfast: an elderly socialist, in America?!

That’s why Elizabeth Warren is so dangerous to Clinton. Warren has passion; it seeps out of every speech she makes.

As for Trump’s 16 or so Republican opponents, even their simulated passion seems strangely contrived, and muted. They need to reach deep down into their reptilian brains, and find their primal selves, and then let that rip.

Or else they will continue to be swept aside by the triumphal Trump descent from the mountain, carrying his simplistic slogans, and waving his bright red poster Let’s Make America Great Again.

Let the reptiles emerge!

Professor Rapaille

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