There is a way. Not only that, this path would help calm the rancor in the country and could very well guarantee a uncontested nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. If executed correctly, Trump could very well be elected president.
What is this amazing strategy? It’s pretty simple really.
At some point in our lives, we have all gotten angry. Generally, lots of times. The vast majority of us come back down from that angry state, and there’s a certain emotional path we take along the way. There’s often a “whew!” factor. We’re relieved that we didn’t do or say something stupid when we were so angry, or if we did, we feel remorse. Most of us are reasonable people and being in a constant state of anger goes against our nature.
What makes us angry? Let’s start with anger within a close relationship. Whether with a parent, child, sibling or spouse/significant other, there are already strong emotions within the relationship – love, respect, intimacy (different meanings based on the relationship), and perhaps guilt. Anger is just another strong emotion that makes an appearance from time to time in these relationships. It does not generally take over – it comes and it goes and it can even be a force for good. Rather than letting something fester, anger helps bring an issue to the surface and if addressed in a reasonable manner, the relationship can be strengthened.
Not all relationships are strengthened when anger makes an appearance. Fifty-three percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Perhaps surprisingly, that makes the country the tenth highest in the world; Belgium leads the pack with a 71% divorce rate. There are also cases in which people haven’t spoken to their parents, children or siblings for decades.
I believe some of these problems arise when anger is suppressed. If the relationship is solid enough to withstand the self-evaluation that anger can trigger, that relationship can be strengthened. My wife and I have been together thirty-two years. We are not the same people we were when we got married. We have both changed and a good amount of that change has been driven by the times one or the the other of us had gotten angry about something. There may have been hurt feelings, tears, and raised voices, but we came out of those situations with a better understanding of our partner’s needs and feelings.
So, what does this have to do with Donald Trump?
Trump sounds angry much of the time, and so do his supporters. Mr. Trump needs 53.2% of the delegates from the remaining primaries to avoid a contested convention and ensure his nomination on the first ballot. With a large delegate lead and only two opponents remaining, this doesn’t seem like a difficult obstacle until you dig a little deeper.
In exit polls, 49% report that they would not be satisfied with Trump as the Republican Presidential Nominee. There is an “Anyone but Trump” movement and some powerful republicans are exploring ways to deny Trump the nomination at the convention or organize a third party run. To quote Sally Bradshaw, a longtime advisor to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, “Donald Trump has done to the Republican Party what the killer comet did to the dinosaurs, and there needs to be some rapid evolution between now and November if we hope to win,” (Politico).
Just think about that. Donald Trump is not included in that republican “We;” his presidency would be considered a loss for the republican establishment.
What can Donald Trump do to win over these more mainstream republicans. First of all, he probably can’t win over all of them, but then again, he doesn’t have to. To become the nominee with a first ballot victory, he only needs to win over a small percentage. He has won 47.7% of the delegates in the primaries and caucuses already completed, and he needs only to raise that to 53.2% of the 1,061 delegates in the remaining primary contests to secure the nomination.
How? Donald Trump needs to become less angry and he needs to bring his followers down as well, but slowly. Since we have all gotten pissed off at something in our pasts, Trump could convince us that he, too, has been angry and his anger was driven by the way the country has been undermined. He would point out that the country he loves is being hurt by illegal immigration, high tax rates, over regulation, terrorism, etc.
BUT… now he Is becoming hopeful. He sees hope in the way the American people have responded to his message. He sees hope in his support among highly educated and poorly educated, very religious and not so religious, men and women, young and old. He knows that he can turn that hope and support into solutions that will make America great again. That hope is helping to abate his anger.
As Donald Trump becomes less angry, he can bring his supporters back down with him. It starts with flattery. The support he feels from the American people – “You people,” when speaking to his followers – is the reason he is moving from anger to hope. He can still blame many in the media and political establishment for spreading a dangerous message, but Trump himself has moved from anger to hope.
For this to work, Trump needs to put forward reasonable proposals to address the issues he says are undermining the nation. He could even be a little apologetic to some of the people with whom he has feuded; Megyn Kelly and Jorge Ramos come to mind.
Rather than “building a wall and making Mexico pay for it,” he could propose that additional portions of the wall should be completed as a deterrent to illegal drug shipments, but the best way to cut down on illegal immigration is to improve the e-verify system and strengthen employer penalties so there’s no reason to enter the U.S. illegally. Illegal immigrants simply would not find work.
Mr. Trump has a tax plan, but it should be tweaked to ensure that there’s sound economic science behind it. Under his current proposal, the poor would pay no income tax, but that is actually a significant tax increase over the current system in which working parents receive more from the federal government than they pay into it By way of refundable tax credits. Lower income families spend all the money they get and are a main driver for the economy. A tax increase for the poor will slow the economy.
Rather than claiming that he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Trump should come up with specifics. Thanks to conservative media, the American people have a negative opinion on the “ObamaCare,” but when asked about specific aspects of it, they are very much in favor of keeping those provisions (children can remain covered by their parents’ insurance plans through 26 years old and you cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, to name two). Specifically, Mr. Trump could outline what would be changed, what would remain, and what would it cost.
I could continue in this manner and come up with additional topics which Mr. Trump could address with more detail. The key factor, however, is to change the conversation from one of anger to one of hope. If he does this successfully, he can bring his followers with him – the vast majority of people don’t want to be in a constant state of anger, it’s not healthy for one thing. If he can make this pivot successfully, he should easily pick up the 5.5% additional support in the remaining primaries to ensure his nomination.
Also, if he is less angry and more in control, the presidential contest may become less contentious going forward. That is one outcome I would be happy to see.