Communication and political strategy – a Trumpian approach

Every so often, I tell myself that I will not write another article about Donald Trump; no more of my mind will be consumed with his utterances, gaffes or Tweets.

Every so often, I tell myself that I will not write another article about Donald Trump; no more of my mind will be consumed with his utterances, gaffes or Tweets. His recent comments and actions relating to the repeated school shootings, the Rob Porter scandal and the proposed steel tariffs have caused me to break my self-promise.

Here I am, once again writing another article influenced by the 45th President of the United States of America. His consistent pattern of behaviour raises questions as to whether Mr. Trump is simply uncouth or is a master strategist who knows how to keep connected to his base.

Not having a definitive answer to this question leaves much room for interpretation by pundits, analysts and just about everyone who has even a slight interest in American politics.
All the attention going to Mr. Trump and his shenanigans may not be good for the image of the United States, the country considered as the world’s superpower. However, students and practitioners in the fields of political strategy and of communication should pay close attention.

The man is a genius in the art of tapping into the unspoken desires of groups of people. He has a knack for saying what others think but dare not say. He has also fully grasped the idea behind pushing forward uncomfortable agendas.

What we usually see are politicians who make promises during their speeches on the campaign trail. Lofty promises that often never materialise. Not Donald Trump.

Yes there is an argument to the point made that this presidency has not achieved much. But, if we remove our lens of what is seen as right or appropriate and simply analyse the specific actions in relation to promises made, it will become clear that Donald Trump is delivering or attempting to deliver on major campaign promises.

He is a president who has stuck to who he is, his agenda and that of his core supporters. The website shows the campaign promises made by Mr. Trump and has developed a “Trump-O-Card Scorecard” to examine his delivery rate. The scorecard finds the following in relation to action taken in relation to promises made:

In The Works: 45.1%
Stalled: 32.4%
Promises Kept: 8.8%
Compromise: 6.9%
Promises Broken: 6.9%

Using this set of data, it can be argued that the Trump administration is ahead of the curve when it comes to working towards keeping promises made on the campaign trail.

At no time did this president indicate or even hint that he would be cerebral in his decision-making. None of his pre-presidential actions or utterances gave the impression that he would act with the decorum of his predecessors. There were obvious signs that the Donald Trump of today is what was to be expected. Some Americans, especially those who live or who have lived abroad, are embarrassed.

Many from other countries speak harshly about American politics and even find joy in the thought of how the mighty looks more ordinary as the days go by. That is all well and good but there is so much negative about the Trump presidency being showcased that any possible lesson to be learned is often overlooked.

Growing up in Jamaica, one of the things I have often been told is that one must never focus only on the negative. There is always good in everyone and in almost every situation. One of the good coming out of the Trumpian approach to politics is that it has been shown that politicians can work through promised agendas.

It has been an ugly process so far but it has been shown that, with the right campaign promises, countries can move forward with agendas set during the campaign season. Donald Trump has raised the bar which will be hard to follow. Politicians are left with three options:

- Make less campaign promises;

- Make enemies along the way while making an effort to deliver on promises;

- The status quo: make as many promises as possible and hope that people forget.

The success or failure of Donald Trump’s election bid in 2020 will help to dictate which of the options will be the favoured one for future American presidents.

Whatever future politicians will do is yet to be known but political strategists should learn all they can from the Trumpian approach.

The writer is the owner and operator of Forrest Jackson Properties Ltd.
Twitter @NatscR.
The views expressed in this article
are of the author.