Here’s my problem with Trump in a nutshell – he projects a generic idea onto his followers and they assign meaning to it. It is whatever they believe it is and because he is in no way specific, he has no risk of being proven wrong – he can say “That’s not what I meant” and change direction with no penalty.
Trump isn’t standing for election on solid principles, he is negotiating with his followers for their support based on a strategy to seal a deal.
A quote from this Buzzfeed article just about sums up my thoughts. I’ve no idea if this is true or not, what I do know is that it fits with what some of my acquaintances in the New York investment and private equity game have to say about him.
“On Saturday, columnist Gail Collins, one of the attendees at the meeting (which also included editor-in-chief Dean Baquet), floated a bit of speculation in her column:
‘The most optimistic analysis of Trump as a presidential candidate is that he just doesn’t believe in positions, except the ones you adopt for strategic purposes when you’re making a deal. So you obviously can’t explain how you’re going to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, because it’s going to be the first bid in some future monster negotiation session.'”
With the Donald, there is the deal, there is nothing but the deal, and all must give way to getting the deal.
The tactic of not telling too much is one commonly used in negotiations to prevent your opponent from getting you pinned down – you start out very, very vague and only when you are close enough to see the deal being sealed, you add little bits of detail. To maximize your position and minimize what your opponent has to work with, you want to agree to as little as possible – just enough to get your opponent to keep moving toward a close, because you want to keep as many options open as possible until the deal actually closes and the ink is dry.
Unpredictability is also an advantage in a negotiation – as long as you can keep the talks moving, it is an advantage that your opponent cannot figure out your next step. A classic example of this is when Nixon was negotiating to open up China – the Chinese were genuinely afraid of him because he created the image of unpredictability – they came to the table because they thought he was batshit crazy and would actually do the things he said he would do.
Trump is a master persuader and negotiator and he is still negotiating with his supporters, they just don’t know it. If he doesn’t win the nomination, we may never truly know what he believes because at that point, there is no value to him in telling anyone. If he wins, he will still parcel out information bit by bit because controlling information gives him power – both in negotiations with Congress and over his support.
He is approaching this whole affair as a business negotiation, not an election. His goal is to simply close the deal and closing the deal to him means sitting behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office. I’m frustrated with him because in my 30+ years in business, I’ve seen this process a thousand times. This kind of negotiator counts on wearing you down until you just give in. In the past, I have been locked in these kinds of negotiations for months for something that could have been agreed to in weeks. For some of these personalities, they enjoy the negotiation as much as they do the deal. It is like playing a game to them.
Hillary should certainly release the transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches. Her supporters have a right to know. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander – perhaps Trump has some things he should release as well.
I hate being played almost as much as I hate seeing others played and Trump is playing his supporters like a virtuoso playing a Stradivarius – and the funny thing is, they think they know what is going on. They actually think he cares about them and their wants, needs and desires. I hate to break it to them, they are only a means to an end for him. I’ve seen this movie before and I know how it ends.