Saturday, August 26, 2017

Is Trump a Teacher?

Trump often takes popular notions from others and makes them his own (both positively and negatively). This is a marketing strategy. I believe Democrats can take Trump's backwards #MAGA and re-imagine it to a positive #MAGA with Make America Great for All, Not One, Not Some, but ALL. This is the democratic ideal, an ideal I think the American people can positively and proactively rally around, civilly debate, and embrace.
I remember the day clearly when my students began to realize that most people aren't all good or all bad. They were telling stories about the famous people they were studying. It seemed like every time someone mentioned a positive fact about a famous person from today or the past, another person would mention a not-so-positive fact about the same person. As the conversation continued, it became clear that most people have strengths and challenges, and that these people we admire have both good sides and not-so-good sides. Students' hero-worship for these famous people was dented that day as evidence from the looks on their faces, but it was an important life lesson. In truth, we're all on that continuum between good and bad, and we stand at different places dependent on the particular topic or context.

So today as I read the newspaper and noticed that a favorite candidate of mine will be challenged by someone with a lot of money, I worried about her success. What can she do to get the message across that she's really bright, totally dedicated, and respectful towards people from all walks of life. I've watched this candidate closely in the last few months, and I've noticed that she works around the clock on issues one may refer to as unpopular, unsexy, and really, really deep and complex to protect the rights of Americans. She's unafraid to speak up, reach out, collaborate, and do the hard work necessary to get the job done. But, similar to many really dedicated professionals, her depth may not have the pizazz that a reality television star has. She may not mirror what popular culture loves--the power, the money, the intrigue, the bold and brazen confidence.

As I thought more about this, I thought that while I typically don't agree with almost anything Donald Trump does or stands for, I will say he was a very successful marketeer in the presidential election. What did he do that supported his win?

As I thought about this, I realized that he did a lot of what good teachers do including the following:
  • He uses few words
  • He speaks to people's emotions
  • He repeats his message with catchy, simple phrases continuously
He also uses some techniques, good teachers don't use in the classroom:
  • He surrounds himself with beautiful, powerful people (mostly)
  • He acts like he knows everything
  • He has good name recognition, plus his name means "to win"
Now, unlike good teachers, Trump is untrustworthy, has questionable relationships, does not represent good ethics, and appears to not do his homework or work with good discipline or collaboration. But, I'll save that for another post.

As I think of the politician I'm watching, I'm wondering if she can learn from Trump, and do the following:
  • simplify her great depth and commitment to simple phrases
  • find really awesome, popular people to stand by her side and her commitment
  • appeal to people's emotions (especially those that vote) --what are people in her district, state, or nation thinking about, what do they want. 
  • stand with confidence (which this candidate already does)
  • repeat the message -- use the call and response so popular to so many with those catchy, simple, powerful statements
  • get her name out there as much as possible (I believe that's one reason Trump tweets so much--he doesn't want anyone to forget him for a minute, and he knows if he's sensationalizes, people will talk about him more.)
  • perhaps disregard the criticism and don't speak to it--I'm not sure about this, but we can see that Trump ignores all criticism, and doesn't speak to it with the exception of denying it. (Yet that's something that really turns me away from Trump and probably turns a lot of people away from him. For example, Why won't he share his taxes? That's so frustrating especially in light of the fact that most of us pay our fair share.)
I don't want my candidate to sell out with regard to her ethics, relationships, depth, intelligence, or good work--she's got that, and that's awesome. But now it's time to learn a lesson from Trump, and that doesn't mean to copy what he does, but to use elements of his marketeer savvy to appeal to the people so then she can do the good, deep, forward-moving work that she's capable of doing.

Do you agree with this? If not, why not? I want to know.