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Trumped by a Trump

As a political activist I am somewhat of an anorak when it comes to watching politics shows. These days those shows are wall-to-wall Trump. Trump has masterfully outsmarted the mainstream media at every twist and turn on his road to the White House and, now he is White House, has skilfully portrayed the mainstream media as the establishment. He is the populist who represents the oppressed. What a brilliant piece of miscommunication and the fact that the message has stickability and legs is truly brilliant. His brand is everywhere and he is a master of managing the news cycle. Again as a Twitter user you cannot tweet without Trump being the centre of the conversation.

 

The man is a communication phenomenon. If he is half as good or as proficient at wielding power as we have come to believe, we are all in for a major rollercoaster ride. Now rollercoaster rides can be really terrifying to some and exhilarating to others. Trump, yes ’The Donald’, is the biggest unknown ever to take control of the White House. The key question is, will he be a disruptive force for good or bad, or just a disruption or aberration to the normal news cycle?

 

On one hand, some may see him as a pragmatic businessman with a very flexible ideology and a desire to be seen in a positive light; on the other hand, some may see him as a ruthless dealmaker with no allegiance to the normal norms and institutions that set the boundaries for traditional political power. He has assumed power with divisive, frenzied support and palpable hatred from opposite ends of the political spectrum. He has taken over from someone viewed by many as cool, as in “hip” cool, as in “unflappable”, with many people missing this laid-back nature.

 

Nassim Nicholas Taleb of Black Swan fame said Trump is not as "scary" as people make him out to be. Don’t know how he knows? Taleb also said, "In the end, Trump is a real estate salesman. When you elect real estate salespeople to the presidency, they're going to try deliver something." Now that is what scares so many people. Trump might actually try to do something. The fear is that his aggressive personality which makes him a deal maker in business is missing the empathy and engagement characteristics that are prerequisites for negotiation through consensus in the political area. Yes he is a blackswan in his unpredictableness in politics, but he is not in business where his “screw you” approach can be met with an equal force of personality. In politics that “screw you” approach delivers wars of trade, wars of power, and wars of force. Let us hope this blackswan has some white feathers and is not all black. Only time will tell if he is the real deal, the real dealer, the deal maker, or the deal-monger that delivers a more volatile and uncertain world.

 

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