Of all the wild-cards that preside over the presidential candidacy, perhaps Donald Trump’s lofty rise to the political mainstream has been the most surprising. Representing a Republican party which is bidding to regain the keys to the White House after two terms in the political wilderness, is the rise of Trump merely a flash in the pan or is this transitional type of politician something that we should be getting used to? Above all, could this be beneficial or inherently damaging for society?
Business tycoon turned politician, Trump’s transition to the political platform has been nothing short of dramatic. He’s currently enjoying healthy poll ratings and is surpassing his closest competitor, Ted Cruz. With ample media coverage and a seemingly unlimited budget, Trump’s campaign is well equipped to say the least. By using his own personal brand and populist style policies he has crafted an effective mix to attract disenchanted supporters, the backing of the corporate sector and the abandoned middle class. These combining factors have enabled the idea of a Trump presidential candidacy to become that little more probable.
His recent remarks against Muslims, however, indicate that Trump may lack the intellectual credentials for the big job. While this may have galvanised a small minority of Trump die-hards, seeking a tougher stance as a result of the Paris attacks, the general reaction to Trump’s controversial ‘speech’ would have deterred a lot of potential affiliates, not only in the public sphere but also within the Republican party itself.
An ‘Instagram election’
Coined by former president Bill Clinton, his analogy to the current presidential race is in fact, quite accurate. In an age of sound-bites and quick responses, it’s not a manifesto but a tweet that gets you coverage and more importantly: your message across to voters.
This, if anything, is Trump’s forte. With the added clout of his personal brand, his rivals are up against a well-seasoned player. When it comes to tapping into the power of social media, Trump vs the career politician, is not a fair fight. This home advantage will undoubtedly serve as a renewable fuel for his relevance and continuance in this presidential race.
The attraction of Trump to voters can be boiled down to him carefully playing on the emotions of the electorate, who are in part: fearful, confused and seek security.
He’s a familiar face and in the world of business, his name speaks for itself. Somebody who you watch on TV; calling the shots and making examples out of people. Like it or not, when Trump speaks, you listen.
Trump isn’t the first businessman to take the leap into the world of politics. And while he may ultimately fail, others have succeeded.
Corruption, tax fraud, bribery, child prostitution, illegal financing. No these aren’t sub-plots for a crime thriller, but a list of allegations and convictions against former businessman turned prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
Italy’s longest serving post- war prime minister, epitomised controversy but also secured enough support to remain in office for nearly a decade.
Before his entry to politics, Berlusconi was an incredibly successful business tycoon, with a portfolio largely focused in media ownership. His business pedigree is something that would rival that of Trump’s and his overall performance suggests the inability of former men of the boardroom taking the leap ‘into the field’ to separate private interests from accountability to the public and the job at hand.
Although it would seem hazardous to guess if this would mirror the political destiny of Donald Trump, if he were to make it to the top, the case of Berlusconi does highlight the very real danger of allowing somebody of such character to reach the heights of political power and the damning consequences this may have on a country’s politics.
The art of the deal
So as the U.S. Presidential race heats up, the time is nearing where the American people will soon realise who their choices will be for the next election. Donald Trump has done well to still be in contention and the reality is: he’s not going away. The fairy tale isn’t over, just yet.
A savy businessman at heart, Trump is chasing the deal and his growing support suggests that he is ever nearer to finalising it. Is he the man to stand in the Republican corner? Will he be another Berlusconi or can he present something to the American people, that so far seasoned Democrats and Republicans alike, have failed to conjure? Time, as always, will tell.
Nevertheless, come election time only the public will decide how this story ends. When the ballots are cast, they will need to make a choice: blue or red. And for those who are searching for inspiration and advice on making their decision, they need look no further than to the man himself. “Sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make.” Great tip, Donald.