I had a dream about Republican frontrunner Donald Trump the other night.
Trump and I were in a private meeting, and he wanted my endorsement.
But what the hell is this building a wall with Mexico business?, I asked him. And, in all intellectual honesty, thinking they would pay for it? And banning all Muslims from entering the country?
I asked him about trade. Because on the economic front, Trump is not really a Republican. And if it weren’t for reducing trade barriers and making business easier, I can’t imagine why I would ever vote for a Republican.
And that’s when it happened.
“It’s all bullshit,” Trump told me.
“All of it?” I asked. “The 35% tariff on goods made in Mexico, tossing out free trade agreements, buddying up with Putin …”
“All of it,” Trump confirmed. “I don’t believe any of that. But I have to say it in order to win.”
And I let that sink in for a second.
“OK,” I told him. “But wait, all of it?”
“I’ll back you,” I said, and then I woke up.
But unlike most times when you wake up from a dream and the nonsense is just nonsense and reality is clearly reality, in this case what should be reality was a dream and the nonsense was reality. Not Trump asking for my endorsement of course – that’s nonsense – but the Trump rhetoric. All the horseshit Trump is spouting is not a dream.
I’m pinching myself right now, and he is not just saying it in dreams.
This dream comes at a time when I’m covering Peru’s 2016 elections for Peru Reports. So I’m watching two electoral cycles at the same time, and therefore hearing double the bullshit and never-going-to-happen promises. So saying what it takes to win, whether it be in GOP primaries or a rural Andean village, is at the top of my mind.
Will Trump get the nod?
Many readers have assumed or tried to guess my politics. The truth is, my opinions are pretty boring. The only issues I care strongly about are free trade, neoliberal economics and immigration. Beyond that, I’ll take centrist, pragmatic candidates from either party. In other words, establishment candidates.
So when I saw Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in prominent positions in the race, I was concerned. Fortunately the Democrats are doing the right thing in nominating Hillary.
But the Republicans are about to commit an epic fuckup. A historic fuckup that threatens the future of the party.
From where I see it, the best-case scenario for Republicans if they nominate Donald Trump is that Hillary Clinton wins the presidency and the Democrats take the Senate, which is only in play if Trump heads the GOP ticket.
Worst-case scenario is the above scenario PLUS the Republican party implodes, breaks apart. One of the two camps under the GOP tent may desert the party.
Camp 1 are the liberal Republicans, centrists and business community. I’m Camp 1, albeit a Camp 1 who will defect to the Democrats with no quims or qualms. Camp 2 are the gun enthusiasts, religious rights and anti-immigration people. The alliance between the two camps has often been shaky, but Trump’s nomination just may bury it. Because I don’t see Camp 1 supporting Trump under any circumstances.
The New Strategy
There has been an interesting twist in the media’s narrative around Trump recently. Journalists are raising the point that Trump could have invested his $40 million inheritance in 1974 in a simple index fund and come out with about the same amount of money as he makes today.
There are flaws to that argument. For example, there were no index funds in 1974. He could not have invested every dollar year in, year out, because he would need something to live on. On the other hand, his businesses have seen four bankruptcies, and plunging stock holdings don’t get the luxury of bankruptcy protection. So maybe the comparison is fair when the flaws are balanced out.
But the underlying point is a pivot in strategy. Most people think of attacking an opponent’s weakness. But another strategy is to attack someone’s strength.
Floyd Mayweather may have been the best boxer of all time. His greatest strength was an impenetrable defense, while his weakness was a lack of power. So most opponents thought to hurt him and compete with power punching, but most opponents can’t lay a hand on him. The strategy doesn’t get off the ground and Mayweather outpoints you with a smile to finish each round.
The closest anybody came to beating Mayweather may have been Marcos Maidana, who attacked Mayweather’s strength. By clinching and throwing odd-angle shots against the ropes and generally fighting a dirty fight — a grind-it-out, ugly FIGHT which did not necessarily adhere to the rules of boxing — Maidana neutralized Mayweather’s defense for many rounds. He attacked his strength.
That’s why Mayweather handpicked the ref for the rematch, and Maidana was exposed as clearly out of his league. But he got a huge payday for the best strategy anybody mounted against Money Mayweather.
Attacking Trump’s weaknesses isn’t working. His policies are a joke. He is saying borderline racist and sexist things in an increasingly politically correct society. And he keeps winning.
It’s time to attack Trump’s strength.
Trump’s strength is that he is perceived as an excellent businessman. Without that perception, what is Trump’s attraction?
So Trump’s personal net worth barely outperformed the stock market over 40 years, so by definition he is not a great businessman. Instead of working his ass off and taking monumental risks with hundreds of millions of dollars, he could have led the life of a playboy, or a philanthropist, or been a simply nice guy.
Trump’s business career features many monumental fuckups. Huge losses and burned creditors. What he has been good at, what has accounted for the bulk of his fortune, is his personal brand. The Trump brand.
Trump’s personal celebrity is his business. The naming rights of Trump buildings he has no interest in whatsoever, and wouldn’t be allowed in. The Apprentice television show.
Trump’s business is nothing like that of a mogul or investor, and much more like that of a Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton.
That should be the strategy in stopping Donald Trump.
Unfortunately the Trump base may not be the most financially literate bunch. Strategy may not work. This saga may lead to the implosion of one of America’s historic political parties. It would be fun to watch from down here.
End rant. Now have a laugh with the video below.