Donald Trump has swept the Clinton machine aside, and can now look forward to making speeches at the White House and assenting (or vetoing) bills presented to him by lawmakers of the most powerful nation on earth. It’s the most surprising result of any political process undertaken this year, greater even than Brexit. And we are still asking ourselves questions about how this drama ended the way it has.
How on earth did he do it?
We might be tempted to compare Trump’s victory to the Biblical triumph of young David over the Philistine warrior giant Goliath. But the Republican President-elect doesn’t exactly pretend to have much in common with a rustic shepherd boy who honed his slingshot skills while roaming the highlands of ancient Israel. Trump is a billionaire.
The wealthy businessman decided to run for President, not as a darling of the famous and the so-called establishment politicians, but as a critic of the norm, a rebel of some sorts. He didn’t’ appeal to the Ivy-league educated intelligentsia, and was rejected by the community of business leaders in his country. The king makers of American politics declared their disdain for his brand of politics, with its sometimes fiery attack on the governance methods of the Obama administration. Trump, for all the flack he got from his critics, pressed on, resolutely.
His determination has paid off; in a way that has shocked a greater part of the world.
Of all the lessons we could possibly draw from this drama, two stand out:
1. Underdogs can win. They just need to use their strengths, and a great strategy. Some people might not like the idea of Trump being an inspiration. Maybe he isn’t. But his achievement is. What many casual observers will miss is the fact that he played to his strengths- his ability to tap into a sentiment that wasn’t being recognized by mainstream politics. He saw a wave of discontentment with the ‘regular politicians’ sweep through Europe, engulfing Greece, Spain, and the United Kingdom (with Brexit). He listened to American talk shows in which callers expressed their anger at the perceived failure of the career politicians to fulfill their promises to the people. There was an opportunity for him to seize, and he took it.
Some people might not like the idea of Trump being an inspiration. Maybe he isn’t. But his achievement is.
It now appears that his strategy was a bit more straightforward than the incredibly detailed planning that went into the Clinton campaign. Trump simply presented himself as ‘the real deal’- a man who spoke his mind and did not hand a ‘photoshoped’ version of himself to the public. He was original, in a way that many blue-collar Americans could connect with.
The lesson here is this: if you’re faced with a great challenge (or challenger), do not try to beat it (or them) at its (their) game. Play to your own strengths, and make maximum use of them.
2. ‘Underdogs’ shouldn’t be underestimated. No matter what shades they come in. Whether the less fancied person is a billionaire or a slum dweller, their capacity to bring about a change in their state or that of their environment should not be ignored. Perhaps the biggest mistake of the Clinton campaign was ignoring the groundswell of support for an alternative to traditional politics. What turned the tide in favour of the Republican Party’s candidate was, in fact, the support of a largely neglected section of the American population- the white working class people. Mainstream media choose to neglect or disparage their grievances, which included a feeling that their country’s identity was being eroded without a proper conversation about how the change was supposed to proceed. Trump, a self-declared representative of the inward-looking ways of conservative small town America, made himself an ambassador for the maligned and ran the race to the white house by flying their message as a flag, to be planted at the doorsteps of the White House.
A people united by a strong resolve… with singular, unwavering determination, are capable of achieving the impossible.
What the world has seen is another story of the triumph of the will of a determined lot. Maybe the words spoken by the victor, in this case, have not always been in good taste. But if there is anything worth learning from Trump’s victory, it is the fact that a people, united by a strong resolve and attacking the obstacles in their way with singular, unwavering determination, are capable of achieving the impossible.