(An excerpt from the upcoming e-book, Trump and the Populist Revolt.)
Few expected Donald Trump to fare so well. Probably not even The Donald himself planned on this level of support-- he was likely merely doing a little brand boosting. But his unfiltered statements reflected a public mood. His campaign quickly caught on.
In hindsight, Trump's success isn't completely surprising. His campaign marks the introduction of advanced marketing techniques into the creaky world of politics. When Trump said of his opponents-- and of politicians and government-foundation bureaucrats in general-- "These are very stupid people," he was right. The not-so-bright political mandarins have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to defeat Trump. He's run a streamlined campaign with a small staff, fueled by free media.
Donald Trump realized you can bypass the rules of the game by ignoring them. The way to the top proved to be not via meticulously-created, strategy-crafted expensively top-heavy political machines full of experts and armies of paid party loyalists. Trump found a shortcut. He demonstrated the importance of story and the primacy of mass media.
Contention? Controversy? Nonstop outrageous statements? This kept the "Trump" name-- already a renowned brand-- in front of, well, everybody living outside a cave. No individual has ever so dominated social media, particularly twitter. Trump did it not with a planned-out strategy a la the Obama campaign in 2008, but as a natural happening.
Donald Trump is a master buzz creator. To find his like you'd have to go back to Brian Epstein of England, in 1963. Trump set off sparks that turned into a nuclear chain reaction. Buzz feeding on itself. The infection of publicity.
Maybe Donald Trump would be a terrible President. Maybe not. What he's proved to be is the all-time best at generating publicity.
The hope, if he IS elected, is that he puts his genius for business and PR to the service of his country. Brand America. If it happens, it will be a wild ride. A substantial portion of the American public are willing to take that ride. For many Americans, life is on a downtrend. The national stagnation has become unfulfilling. If there's a chance for America to become "great again"; for us to experience renewed American prosperity, many citizens are willing to wager on that opportunity.