Politics for the last four years has been anything but conventional. We all witnessed the remarkable campaign of Donald Trump in 2016. He defeated Hillary Clinton putting every conventional thinking pollster and pundit to shame with their inability to foresee the outcome. Since becoming President, Trump has dealt with an unrelenting resistance with wars of words fought in countless set piece battles by opposition operatives in both politics and the media.
One of Trump’s most effective tools for wading into this war of words has been his Twitter account @realdonaldtrump. The U.S. President changed the definition of leadership communication across the globe by going first person in his method of posting thoughts and policies. Where FDR had his fireside chats over AM radio through a tightly knit network of broadcast stations, Trump ignited fires in social media knowing that every word would be picked up and amplified by a vastly more diverse cacophony of mainstream and online outlets. So he used a persona that, regardless of how the outlet reacted or chose to spin the message, the message would still get through to people. From a communications science perspective, it was quite brilliant. Say one thing and every echo chamber responds to it almost instantaneously.
It has frustrated Trump’s political enemies, which includes a hostile media jealous that he found a way to bypass them, as well as political foes with far lesser skills in the art of direct messaging. This includes the entirety of Establishment D.C. encompassing central Democratic leadership, “Never Trump” Republicans In Name Only (RINO’s), and career Washington operatives and alumni from every federal agency. They’re all boring. They only know how to create statements that go to the press to be carried by them into the news cycle. Trump had the “Outsider’s Edge” ability to talk to the people directly all to himself for a very long while. Truthfully, it wasn’t until the arrival of another “outsider” named Alexandria Ocasio Cortez that someone figured out how to use the power of internet direct messaging to also bypass the establishment. And, just to be complete, the Establishment doesn’t like her either.
That old chant from the 2016 campaign remains, “Drain the swamp.”
You can call me crazy for suggesting this if you want, but I’ll bet that in President Trump’s second term, he will find more allies by working with outsiders to guide the future of the United States than he will in any Establishment cabal. It will likely be a tumultuous alignment of agendas, but outsider versus establishment is what I really believe the next four years will be about.
The internet has become too noisy and Twitter has become a cesspool of noise almost impossible to see anything of value in. To top it off, the Establishment has begun to put pressure on all social media platforms to cool the heels of free speech. The threat that these companies cannot ignore is that their existence is being threatened by swamp zombies pulling the antitrust violation card on them. Well of course they are going to lower their profiles and reduce their utility as soapboxes for the masses. That is a lot of money to lose if they do not. It becomes more challenging to achieve direct message communication as this happens.
So now how do you create that effect of saying one thing and having it hit like a tsunami in every echo chamber?
Woodward Tapes = Bombshell Tweets
If you think for a fraction of a second the Donald Trump did not clearly understand what Bob Woodward would do with his interview of the president, you need your head examined. Of course he knew that Bob would take everything that he said and spin it in a manner so as to call the President’s judgment into question. I mean that’s what Woodward does. It’s all he’s ever done. He’s an entirely predictable and manipulable tool.
So this is where it gets really interesting to me. Why would you not think that a man who has been using social media to create direct messaging transmissions designed to ignite discussion in every possible echo chamber isn’t doing the same thing with anyone he grants an interview to. Note that Trump has been giving interviews to Fox for some time. He’s been learning the art of using mainstream media outlets like a Twitter account. Come on people get with it. How can it not be obvious that the Trump White House was developing alternatives to social media to manage its direct communication strategy?
Look at what the President achieved. Trump told his story. Woodward put spin on his story. The mainstream media bought into Woodward’s story, hook, line and sinker. Every echo chamber in the country lit up like a Christmas tree!
The messages were many and quick: “we’ve got you now” from the Democrats, handwringing from hesitant Republicans, joyous “OMG he got duped” from every person who never liked the man, even confusion from his allies who had never seen this ploy used before.
And then as the spin of the narrative began to show its flaws, clarification by persons in the know and fact checking calling out the spin exploded onto the scene. Who has got egg on their faces now? Do you really think the orchestration was accidental?
Impressive, the execution was flawless. This is a brilliant use of the medium to deliver a message between the lines.
He’s Winning Anyway
None of these media and message games have prevented Trump from piling up a four-year track record of accomplishments domestically and internationally.
Trump’s agenda for the US economy remains poised to move forward. Despite COVID-19, the Dow Jones Industrials have recovered nearly everything lost due to fear of the coronavirus. Remember how every anti-Trump pundit was praying that the economy would collapse? Remember how they hated the 2019 jump in the economy? Remember how they rejoiced that COVID-19 tanked the economy because it meant Trump’s economic agenda was a failure and that would ensure his defeat in November? Well, the market has recovered and is now back at levels almost where it was at the end of 2019. Markets fear uncertainty. The numbers say Wall Street is not that fearful. Game. Set. Match.
Sitting in the wings, despite a doldrum in news coverage, the US China Phase One Trade Agreement continues to be implemented with the Chinese doing most of the heavy lifting at the moment, which is exactly what the Trump team won in the language of the treaty. The future implications of a fairer basis for bilateral economic relations between the two countries will benefit the entire Pacific Rim and force the eclipsing of many of the political and power differences between the two countries into a new order by necessity.
Internationally, Donald Trump has done something no one has been able to do. He has created the basis for real peace in the Middle East. The resumption of diplomatic relations between Israel and first the United Arab Emirates and then Bahrain is historic.
Most Americans have not yet realized the significance of these events. Conflict stabilization in the region has not been this promising since before World War Two. Far more significant, economic connectivity to this degree has not been with us since the fall of the Roman Empire. Bahrain is the financial gateway between Western and Middle Eastern banking. The money bridge just created is a tidal wave that will sweep through the region and ripple across the globe.
Take a minute and let that soak in. It is that big of a deal! The world has Donald J. Trump to thank for it. He actual does deserve that Nobel Peace Prize.