Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Taming the Tempest

It seems that a tempest has engulfed the globe.

We are now seeing terrorist events almost daily in Europe.

We have not seen anything like the racial unrest and violence that we are experiencing on the streets of America in well over a generation.  The attacks on our police are unprecedented. They go much beyond anything I saw during the Vietnam War protest era.

The rule of law seems not to mean anything anymore. Our immigration laws are blatantly ignored. The Supreme Court makes law rather than interprets. $400 million in cash is shipped to an enemy power in a ransom payment without any involvement of Congress which is supposed to appropriate spending (that is one big petty cash account the President seems to have). A Secretary of State circumvents national security and freedom of information guidelines through use of a private server and is given a pass by the FBI.

Underlying all of this is a struggling world economy and an American economy that has been languishing for almost a decade.

All of the elements should be there for a change agent to be elected the next President of the United States.

Hillary Clinton is surely not that person and her poll numbers tend to bear that out.

Donald Trump has all the characteristics that you want in a change agent.

He is an outsider.

He seems beholden to no one in the Washington establishment.

He speaks candidly and without the political correctness we have come to expect from anyone in the public eye.

He is open and accessible.

Donald Trump is also tempestuous. He is wild, lively, unpredictable and a whole lot more.

There is a lot that people like about those qualities in a person. That is one of the big reasons that Trump is able to get some much media time. and so much attention. However, there is also a downside. How much tempestuousness do we want to deal with the tempest in the world?

Many years ago I learned that most people's weaknesses are actually their strengths used to excess. For example, people like a confident person but they do not like someone who is arrogant. People respect someone who is reserved but disregard someone who is withdrawn. Most people who want to improve their personal qualities ought to first look at their good qualities and see if they may be using them to excess.

Donald Trump is a textbook case in demonstrating this point. He could solve a lot of problems for himself in his race for the Presidency if he understood this.

If I was advising Trump that would be the first thing I would tell him. He has what people are looking for. He just has to be measured in how he uses it at this point. He has already shown he is capable of shaking things up. He has nothing else to prove to the voters on that point.

The current environment is providing Donald Trump something akin to a customer walking up to one of the poker tables in his casinos and drawing an inside straight.

The world is a mess. A vast majority of people in our country say we are heading in the wrong direction. People are tired of the status quo and the Democrats are running the Queen of the Status Quo.

It doesn't get much better than that for Donald Trump.

In fact, I dare say that the only one that can beat Donald Donald Trump.

People are looking for exactly what Donald Trump is selling. They want someone to shake up Washington. However, they don't want him to shake them up personally.

At their core, human beings are risk adverse. We prefer not to try new things or new places unless we have to. If we move it is usually because the pain we feel in our current situation forces our hand. In effect, we ultimately determine that the current pain outweighs the risk and uncertainty of doing something different.

When I was in marketing one of the key metrics that always fascinated me was the fact that research showed that almost half of all potential sales were not lost to a competitor, they were lost to the status quo. In effect, the customer simply did nothing. In the end, they determined it was better to do nothing than to do something with you. T

Trump's campaign strategy needs to be three-fold. He first needs to reminding voters of the painful circumstances they are in. He hit this hard at the GOP convention and he was criticized by the media for the dark picture he painted. However, he needs to do this. He has to point out the pain or people will elect to stay with the status quo. Second, he needs to point to how he will do things differently and can make things better. His economic plan that he released this week is a good example of this. Third, he needs to be seen as someone who is not a risky choice. He clearly is the choice for change. He just has to show that he is not a risky choice. If he can tame his own tempest he can win.

The election this year reminds me very much of the 1980 Presidential race. Our country was in a mess but Ronald Reagan (a former Democrat and actor) was running as a Republican for President. He said a lot of things that media didn't like. He was portrayed as a wild cowboy in his calls for defense build-ups, massive tax cuts and challenging the Soviet Union. A Republican that had run against Reagan in the primaries, John Anderson, ultimately filed as an Independent and made it a three person field in November.

Voters were ready for change but they had to be convinced that the risk of change with Reagan was preferable to the pain they were feeling in their everyday lives. The polls were close right to the end. Voters were torn.

I went home on Election Night expecting a close race based on what the polls were saying. However, Reagan won in a landslide and made the greatest transformation I have witnessed in government in my lifetime.

I get a sense we are in a similar situation today. How else do you explain the polls we are seeing? How can Trump be up 7 points right after the GOP convention and down 7 points a week later? It tells me that voters are deeply troubled. They clearly don't like Hillary and want change from the cronyism and corruption that has defined the Clintons over the years. However, they are not sold on Trump. They liked what they heard in Cleveland. It is what they are feeling. However, they fear making a bad bet on Trump.

When people are in doubt they stay with the status quo.

Trump has one overriding goal from here on out. He has to remove the doubt about staying with the status quo.

To do that he needs to show that he can help tame the tempest we find ourselves in. He has to hit voters hard that we simply cannot stay with the status quo. Most importantly, he has to tame the tempest that swirls around him. He has to show that he is a reasonable man and a reasonable choice for change.

If he can, he will win. It is totally his to win or lose.

Trump say he is a winner. Is he prepared to do what it really takes to win? There are now less than 90 days to Election Day. He is really on the clock now.

Speaking of the clock, BeeLine is going to take a month's hiatus in order to rest and reflect for what promises to be a hectic Fall season of blog posts. See you in September!

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