Love him or hate him, it’s undeniable that Donald Trump has captivated his supporters unlike any politician in recent memory. His campaign rallies have attracted tens of thousands of supporters who have wholeheartedly pledged their allegiance not to the Republican Party, or even Trump’s ideas, policies or plan but to the man himself. This loyalty to the Donald himself explains why Trump supporters remain persistently loyal in the face of dozens of blatant contradictions in Trump’s policies and opinions. Now, this isn’t the first, and hardly will be the last article attempting to dissect the so-called “Trump phenomenon” however I do think there is an aspect of Trump’s appeal that is rarely discussed. His ability to sell things.
Both his most die-hard supporters and fiercest enemies are able to agree on at least one thing about Trump, he is not a politician. Rather, he pursues another trade, that of a salesman. This has been his profession his entire life. Some say that as a manager of real-estate he would focus more on investing in long-term project, however, a quick glance at the Trump business model shows that he is far more concerned with the current bottom line than long-term growth and is willing to exploit laws about bankruptcy and eminent domain just to turn a quick profit. Even if it hurts his public image or long term growth.
It’s in this view of Trump, not as an extremist politician, but as a salesman that we can begin to understand his appeal and why it works so well. The job of salesman relies on the use of one tool with a near mastery, that of language. The power of language goes severely underestimated but allows politicians and parties to pose themselves to show their better angles. That’s why Democrats call themselves pro-choice and Republicans call themselves pro-life as nobody would vote for anyone who brands themselves as anti-life or anti-choice. Trump shows a mastery of language that few politicians seem to because although there are dozens of “Trump gaffes” in truth, none seem to be gaffes but instead honestly held beliefs. It’s Trumps ineffable ability to defend even the most outlandish of his statements that alludes to a deeper stratagem of Trump’s and that his statement wasn’t a mistake at all. No, whether this bullheaded defense of his claims is a response to a misstep or an honest belief there was no misstep it works. Few if any Trump supporters believe that any of Trump’s outlandish claims should disqualify him from the Presidency.
This strikes again at a deeper sense of loyalty that Trump supporters have to him regardless of his policies. Trump himself has joked that he could commit heinous crimes and still garner massive political support and it doesn’t seem to be entirely unrealistic. This is because, in the end, Trump isn’t a politician laying out policies through cost-benefit analysis. He’s a salesman, and in the end, to the best salesmen, the product doesn’t matter. Trump is selling his idea of a great America and has irrevocably tied it to his presence in the Oval Office. No other politician claims the powers that Trump does as he poses himself as the only person who is able to negotiate with China, or “solve” immigration and that even with the same policies you need Trump himself behind them for success. Yet ask yourself what do we actually know about “Trump’s America”? It has a wall, Muslims can’t enter the country, we’re going to win, and it’s going “to be great again”. Now for many the first two in that list would force them to disregard the rest but consider how often Trump talks about how he’s going to solve problems, make “tremendous” improvements, as compared to his actual policy proposals. It’s there in a sea of grandiose claims only speckled with policies and substance that Trumps supporters seem willing to drown for their beloved leader.
Now Trump’s success does go beyond his ability to sell his self-brand to the issues of disenfranchisement in the electorate and anti-establishment fervor in the Republican Party. However those themes have been building for years if not decades and it wasn’t until someone like Trump, with the skills to sell to those voters an idea as simple as “Make America Great Again” and to tie themselves to that idea so tightly as to gain their absolute loyalty that they became clear and so incredibly powerful.