From Citizen to President

Because that’s what he said it was all about: winning!

On election eve, late at night from Michigan…he said that all that work, all that money…if we lose it was all for nothing.

Donal Trump imageAll those months…throwing the Republican Party into a dumpster along with all 17 of its candidates with vulgar language, outrageous taunts, attacks on ethnics, immigrants, women…beating up Hillary in every speech with language, threats and accusations no candidate for President has ever used…an unheard of approach.

But within all that noise, bluntly pointing to significant problems in America which have gone unsolved, leaving people with no hope for the future which is such a hallmark of being an American or coming to America.

None of that meant anything to him… it was all for nothing if he lost.

That attitude: ‘winning is what this is about’ was at the heart of his entire effort. If you run you have to win. And to win you say and do everything and anything…truth be damned…civility be damned…ANYTHING …to win.

And it worked. The attitude, the conduct…the message.

Never an athlete (golf doesn’t count) Trump proved to be a street fighter instead, but a very clever one…capable of saying anything that came to mind it seemed…as if there was no forethought at all.

But oh there was forethought… based on a simple fact that establishment politics and media could not fathom: the truth. His simple, obvious message that problems in America have existed for a long time and have not been solved. People have been hurting and have not been helped. We’ve lost the Middle Class…the one element that made America so distinctive, so valued, so strong.

A simple idea, a reality but you have to know how to sell it…and sell it…and sell it. And the success of that message goes right back to the purity of sales technique: say what buyers want to hear and they buy.

Now you would think politicians know that – and they do. But in life – and in sales – it’s not what you say but how you say it that scores points and makes news. And politicians talk the talk of politics…soft, ambiguous, smoke and mirrors, promises too often without reality.

Salesmen on the other hand are just the opposite…hard and fast, give ‘em what they want, a vision of what the object for sale is all about – even if that object is way overpriced and oversold. Even if you have absolutely no idea about how to make your statements come true. Keep talking. Remember that lies repeated ad nauseam are often taken for truth.

The apprentice imageTrump the salesman. Trump the TV star. Loose, relaxed, focused. And always on message. No prepared speeches…no Teleprompter…just get up there and go to it.

The noise and the junior high school language got their attention and there was that message. Right from the beginning.

Trump standing center-stage in the middle of a mob of competitors in that very first Republican TV debate. Fox news anchor, the very blonde Megan Kelly feeds him a devastating question about his rude comments about women, the audience groans in the background and Trump, poised, relaxed and very ready outdoes himself…going after the bombshell herself for asking such a question.

And then never relinquishing that moment, looks left and right at that line-up on either side of him, looks into the camera at us and accuses them of being politicians interested only in themselves and not in the people they represent.

They will never help you he shouts…they only want to help themselves.

And it was all over. A one round knockout even if it took three months to complete the rout…and to clean out the ring.

They never fought back that first night and week after week as one or another took after Trump he batted them away as flies without a swatter. Commanding center-stage in every debate he was more and more outrageous…finding nicknames for them… pounding away relentlessly at the beginning of the show (it was a show with real ratings) and then standing rather quietly for the next hour staying as far away as possible from the substantive arguments on one topic after another.

And then as the nominee, he came after Hillary in the same way. There seemed no limit to his conduct…the name-calling, the threats, the intimidations, taking advantage of every opening to use a flame-thrower on her in rally after rally, the debates, relentless in his ability to stay on target, guns ablaze with a single thing in mind: reminding his base that the system wasn’t working for them, that this woman was its symbol – though he never used such a phrase – and that the whole purpose was winning and getting rid of her and them.

Always on the message that would win it for him: Hillary is experienced but it’s the wrong experience. You’ve had thirty years to fix things for people…and you haven’t. You and all the people like you talking but doing nothing for people who need it.

Trump Audience imageAnd his audience heard him. And while some would point to the rednecks in Florida, and the far-removed people who live way up in northern Michigan and Wisconsin as the Trump audience, that ignores all the working blue collar people throughout the Rustbelt who are very real and very normal. Even though a stunning number thought he didn’t have the temperament or knowledge to be President, they voted for him. Even though many of the very same people voted for Ronald Reagan and were deeply disappointed…they voted for the same message again delivered by a very different messenger.

Trump won in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin by a grant total of 107,000 votes. That’s all…but it was enough.

From citizen to President…on an express train with no stops in between.

Candidate Trump made a lot of promises for his first day in office:

Obama Care X imageHe will get rid of Obamacare; name Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and put an embassy there; initiate a Constitutional amendment calling for term limits on all levels of government; renegotiate the NAFTA treaty; walk away from the new Transpacific treaty; go after China on currency manipulation; give the Middle Class a tax break (we know he wants a new tax break for the rich…but he didn’t say he’d call for it on the first day); place a five year ban on all former public office holders lobbying in Washington; build his beautiful wall across the Southern Border – the one that Mexico will pay for; eject criminally-charged, illegal immigrants from the country; ban any foreign country from lobbying in the US…and there were a few more.

That’s a hefty first day and won’t happen. But while we’re waiting to see what will, we will see the naming of a White House staff with a Chief of Staff with enormous power over a man who clearly knows little about policy substance or about governing anything especially a government. The President is not a CEO. Commander (demander) in chief sounds wonderful but it isn’t running your own company with people jumping every time you speak – Congressmen and Generals don’t generally jump.

And there will be new Secretaries of this or that, maybe the selection of a Supreme Court Justice to put before Congress, the transition team will be working…

But if you are a liberal stunned by this victory, by the very idea of Donald Trump as President – New Yorkers are shaking their heads in disbelief- here is what is important: Now that he has accomplished his goal – winning – Trump must accomplish something else. He must return to the way he has involved himself in some of the more moderate ideas that he openly disavowed on his way to the White House. Because these are the things he has spoken about in the years as a citizen.

We know he has no problem changing his mind and his ‘tune’ at the drop of a bucket. Much of that tune over the years has been essentially moderate. He has spoken supportively of the LGBT community, believes in a woman’s right to choose, recognizes the deeply troubled community of the poor, seems to be sympathetic to people’s needs for a good education and a decent opportunity to succeed. He doesn’t know how to make things happen but frankly most people don’t.

He is not a deep thinker.

He neither projects nor speaks intellectually. That simple language helped him greatly in the campaign. He said it simply because that is the way he speaks.

Maybe a citizen President will be a good thing in many areas. Maybe a man who is used to getting his own way will know how to deal with those around him who should know more than he but won’t cow him; with those in Congress who are far more conservative and radical than he is – no matter how he has sounded – but who he has labelled as ‘stupid’.

You can say that he has unleashed the ‘crazies’ in our society: the racist KKK, the anti-Semites, the misogynists, the haters and has given them powers. But he has not. They came to vote for him because he was clearly talking to them – among others. Unleash them? Well they voted. Given them power? Not yet. A vote is power but supporting ideas and programs is a very different power.

Steve Bannon image
Steve Bannon
The quickest way to know where is he is going is the selection of his Chief of Staff. If it is Steve Bannon of Breitbart media that is a red flag that cannot be ignored. These people took over the campaign, settled it down, kept it moving and let Donald be Donald. These people are part of the alt/right…reaching out to the fringes that deeply concern liberals and moderates.

If Donald Trump is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in a blue suit and a red tie, his appointments will tell us which of those aspects will govern.

David Brooks image
David Brooks of the New York Times
David Brooks a moderate Republican by profession – he takes that side in the New York Times and on PBS – suggests that Trump’s open bigotry, dishonesty and promise-breaking will have to be denounced if it continues. There will be lots of Tweets and TV performances to see and test whether they do continue. But Brooks says that while we cannot go morally numb, there has to be a replacement with a program that addresses the problems that fueled his success.

He then says “ After all, the guy will probably resign or be impeached within a year. The future is closer than you think.”

Chew on that one for awhile.

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