On November 8th, Donald Trump defied the rules of modern politics and became the 45th president of the United States. Donald Trump was running against the odds right from the very beginning. He had purportedly assaulted women, insulted minorities and had been abandoned by his own political party.
The Manhattan billionaire had spoken to Americans in unapologetic language, doubling down on his rhetoric and scoffing at the ideologies thrown his way. So, how did this 70-year-old successful businessman, who has never held political office, waltz his way into the White House? The Guardian underlines three fundamental factors that helped Donald Trump to record one of the most shocking victories in American political history.
Celebrity Status Into Political Power
In 2003, Trump became host of the hit reality TV show, The Apprentice. The show hinged on competitors vying for a chance to work in his organization. According to his biographer, Gewna Blair, for the next 10 years, the successful businessman ensured that he leveraged on television to build his brand personality. Donald Trump enjoyed a 14-season run on The Apprentice, cultivating an image of a “blue-collar billionaire” who had the bucks and brawn to stand up to anybody.
“It gave him 10 years of being in front of the American public being the boss, being CEO, hiring people, famously firing people. Being the guy who can fix it, the one who knows everything … I think that has imprinted on a lot of people, that makes him ‘trustworthy’. That combined with the reality TV phenomenon in which it became acceptable to have something that wasn’t really true. It legitimized a kind of not-quite true thing and shifted our idea of what’s an acceptable version of reality.”
Trump won the race to the White House because he understood that his celebrity status would not juxtapose him with the strict standards that politicians were usually held. He knew that his brash and outrageous behavior would be excused. The 70-year-old knew it would cement him as an unpredictable man who could not be controlled by the establishment.
A Simple Message With Mass Appeal
Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan was a simple campaign slogan first used by Ronald Reagan in his 1980 presidential campaign. Trump’s reuse of the slogan captured fear and hope. It captured a rapidly changing world that was leaving America behind. It encapsulated an era of going back to the golden age of greatness, when Americans had jobs and the rest of the world respected America as the ultimate superpower.
The pride of the American should never be underestimated — Trump’s message resonated with the heart. Hillary Clinton’s manifesto spoke only to the head. According to MSNBC host, Chris Matthews, Trump’s message that Americans were being cheated out of their own country was simply epic.
“There is a deep sense that the country is being taken away and betrayed. I think that is so deep that they’re looking at a guy who’s flawed as hell like Trump and at least it’s a way of saying I am really angry about the way the elite has treated my country. And it’s so deep that it overwhelms all the bad stuff from Trump.”
The Face of Establishment
Hillary Clinton, wife of a former president, a prior U.S. senator, a previous Secretary of State, and succeeding an eight-year Democrat was the ultimate face of the establishment. Within her own party, she struggled to pick the sole ticket from 74-year-old Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders was anti-establishment like Trump, campaigning against anti-globalization and wage stagnation.
Hillary Clinton was lumped in a bubble of privilege with the politicians, Washington, media organizations, Hollywood and other affluent portions of society. Trump portrayed her as a woman who had benefited from politics to the detriment of the average American. Trump’s “drain the swamp” was a quick fix that people believed possible because of his success as a billionaire businessman.
Clinton’s 30 years in government service came with plenty of baggage, the most damning of all, being the FBI investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of state. She was said to be “extremely careless” and the issue never really went away with FBI director James Comey reopening the investigation just days to the elections. The email dumps by WikiLeaks also exposed Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings as a politician.
Trump loved the idea of combating Hillary in the race to the White House. He knew that her lengthy period working in government circles would not endear her to middle-class voters and made the 69-year-old look like a shape-shifting politician who simply could not be trusted.
In 73 days, Donald Trump will succeed Barack Obama as president of the United States.
[Featured Image by Mary Altaffer/AP Images]