Plenty’s been said about President Trump’s methods of messaging, much by Trump, himself:
- “Good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.”
- “My leverage came from confirming an impression they were already predisposed to believe.”
- “The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.”
That may explain his ability to draw attention. But how does he get some people’s fervent adulation? What does he do, that gets people passionate about elections? What makes his devotees convinced he’s a genius, the greatest president ever?
It’s not just that he tells them that’s the truth. (Although he does tell them, and it has some influence.)
It’s a matter of identifying their grievances, and speaking to them, sympathizing, warning that the grievances are truer and more frightening than they realized.
It’s that his acolytes BELIEVE he’s hurting the right people:
- DC insiders
- those with more money
- those with more education
It doesn’t matter if he’s actually hurting those people. What matters is that his followers believe it, and his detractors believe it.
In practice, he’s trying to get as much power and money for himself as possible. So, why does he criticize some elected officials? It’s not that they’re RINOs, or insiders, or Democrats…it’s that they stand in the way of his power. That’s the working definition for who he opposes—if you support his accretion of power, you’re a great, beautiful American.
But people strongly believe Trump is fighting for, or against, them. And he’s not. He’s collecting power, by leveraging people’s strong passions about folks.