The 71st post from the Journal of American Greatness originally published in April, 2016.
Actually, “Trumpian prudence” is a very large question which we don’t have time to explore right now. But it would be worth examining the Trump campaign through the lens of Nicomachean Ethics, Book VI. Weekend project, maybe.
In the meantime, read this extraordinary memo from a former Cruz operative explaining why Trump is winning/has won. (As an aside, we repeat how counterintuitive it is that the neocon flagship and stalwart anti-Trumpite Weekly Standard remains infinitely more interesting than the competition.)
I believe Trump ran a better campaign than Cruz for two reasons:
1) Republican voters not only wanted an outsider candidate for president, they wanted that candidate to campaign like an outsider
2) The conventional strategies and tactics on running in the presidential primary had become so stale that an outsider with disdain for professional politics found a new way to win using common sense
Trump’s simple, straightforward strategy of trying to win in every state, take as much free media as possible, have an inclusion attitude toward getting voters, and appear in front of as many people as possible proved to be sledgehammer against the old way. And unlike just about every other past self-funder, Trump did not let his campaign take him for a ride.
Political professionals have gotten so much power in presidential campaigns that they have diluted the candidates of a message and put up barriers to getting votes. They convince the candidates to run from most media interviews for fear of a gaffe (making them ultimately more gaffe-prone since they get rusty), stick to a boring, limited stump speech to give their talking points more resonance (even though saying something in a new way is more potent), and slice and dice the voters so that virtually everything the candidate says is geared toward an interest group rather than the electorate per se.
Why? Being stage-managed gives more power to the consultants. It makes the candidates more dependent on staff and vendors to navigate them through the torture chamber those people make the election into. The consultants become the smart people and the candidate is a commodity. This attitude is shared by the political media, whose access to the candidates is dependent on sharing a worldview about campaigns with those consultants.
It’s giving Trump too much credit to say that he meant to expose the stupidity of professionalized politics, but that’s what he ended up doing. And he got lucky in the sense that his final primary opponent – although in just about every other way the type voters were looking for in 2016 – was somebody who leaned on that professionalism.
The humiliation—the emperor-is-naked exposure—of political consultants is surely one of the most satisfying elements of the 2016 cycle, no matter what the eventual outcome. For a moment, it appeared that Trump might be assimilated into the consultancy Borg. Don’t get us wrong; we’re all for Trump professionalizing his delegate-wrangling operation, and if Manafort can accomplish that, great. Similarly, we’re all for Trump adopting a little discipline. Not necessarily to the Rubiot extent. But how about, you know, not directly contradicting his own core policy agenda?
Well, apparently Trump is chafing under the new regime and wants to be Trump again. We’re somewhat dismayed by the leaks coming out of his camp since the arrival of Manafort. Until then, the operation had been tight-lipped. Let’s hope they can get back to that. Meanwhile here’s to hoping that Trump continues to resist the Borg (resistance in this case definitely NOT futile) and from here on out states his consistent support for the Greatness Agenda.