Much of this information was in yesterday’s post, but I thought it needed a more prominent presentation. This was somewhat of a surprise revelation that grew out of the reverse engineering idea. We’ll blame it on the creative process.
It seems to me that the most important thing to Donald Trump is the value of the Trump brand, and the respect and privilege that he and his family derive from that brand. The Trump brand has been built with:
- Business Savvy
- Beauty (buildings and wives), and
- Reality Entertainment Stardom.
The Trump brand’s value increases when Donald trump acts in the ways that helped build the brand in the first place. It’s more valuable when Mr. Trump:
- Tells the world how smart he is and how good he is at everything he does,
- Reminds the public how great a businessman he is,
- Shows off his wealth and brags about his extravagant lifestyle,
- Rides down the Trump Tower escalator with Melania during his presidential campaign announcement, and
- When he acts like a reality TV star.
The brand benefitted from Donald Trump’s reality TV-type political campaign during the Republican primary, in which what he said and how he said it mattered so much more than the facts. And it worked. I hadn’t given Donald Trump much thought prior to the primaries, and I have no interest in reality television, but I am interested in politics, so Trump’s strategy hooked me. The Trump brand gained followers.
But now, the Trump brand has reached a turning point. It is being tarnished – its value decreased – by unflattering revelations about its leader. The brand’s value is negatively impacted by:
- The apparent fact that neither he nor the company pays federal income taxes,
- His unwillingness to release his tax returns (Have you noticed how the media language has changed from, “He says he’ll release his returns following the audit” to “He refuses to release his tax returns?”),
- The huge business loss reported in 1995 suggesting he may be such a good businessman after all,
- His defense of using tax loopholes that are available only to real estate professionals to avoid paying income taxes which he calls smart, but others have labeled un-American,
- The belief growing in the country that Trump’s promises have little meaning because he makes so many false statements which can be easily checked (70.1% Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire per PolitiFact),
- The disbelief that he really will look out for the little guy should he become president.
So, the Trump brand is beginning to suffer and it will not likely improve should Mr. Trump win the election in November because:
- His tax plan cuts taxes by 10.2-16% for the top one percent, but by about 1% overall, which likely means a tax increase for lower to middle income taxpayers. Data show that tax cuts for the wealthy do not stimulate the economy in the two years following the cut, but tax breaks for lower and middle income Americans has a substantial impact. His tax plan would balloon the debt and cost millions of jobs. The little guy will probably suffer during a Trump presidency.
- There is no way to predict and stop every terrorist attack on soft targets, but many people believe that rhetoric fuels the anger that causes some homegrown terrorist to become radicalized. People will die in soft target attacks no matter who is president, but perhaps a bit more under Trump because of his demeaning language directed at Muslims.
- Trump’s immigration policy will probably end up being very similar to Obama’s first term policy – large numbers of deportations of undocumented immigrants with felony convictions and of recent arrivals. Mexico will not pay for a border wall, and the rate of attempted Mexican illegal border crossings is down 79% from their peak in 2000. Whatever a President Trump would do on immigration would certainly not live up to his promises.
There are many more examples, but you probably get the idea. Since the president is such a public figure, most failures are assigned to him or her, and for a President Trump, that would devalue the Trump brand.
So, perhaps Mr. Trump’s rather bazaar behavior in the past week has been a calculate strategy. He needs to lose the election without being labeled a loser. How?
- Make calculated attacks on certain people like ex-Miss Universe Machado so he will lose some supporters and eventually the election,
- Blame the loss on the system (“It’s rigged against me.” or “Funny things were happening on election day.”), so he is not a “loser,” but rather the fighter who will bounce back stronger than ever from this cheap shot,
If Ms. Clinton wins the election, Donald Trump will then have the opportunity to increase the Trump brand value because he will not be president. Examples:
- When the economy grows at 2.5%, Trump will claim that it would be growing at 5% if he had won.
- When a homegrown terrorist attack occurs, Trump will be able to say that it never would have happened under his watch.
- When the national debt grows each year because taxes have been cut substantially since 2001, but spending has not, he can claim that his tax plan would have produced a budget surplus by now.
And on and on. There will be many chances for Donald Trump to say, “I told you so. You should have elected me.” And the Trump brand will become more valuable.
If this is actually Donald Trump’s strategy, it’s genius, and he is actually a good businessman. Maybe we’ll know in a couple decades when Melania writes her tell-all autobiography.