Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Faceplant of the "outsiders"

Donald Trump's campaign for president has been emblematic of many things: the celebrity nature of modern politics, the phenomenon of more information leading to greater ignorance, and the color orange.

But, in a pragmatic sense, it has been a greater example of another concept: This is what happens when people have no idea what they're doing. Today's moment has been brought to us by The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/04/donald-trump-antisemitic-hillary-clinton-tweet

Right away, depending on your inherent perspective, you're probably thinking one of two things: 1. This is just another example of Trump's/the campaign's/his supporters' obvious biases. or 2. This is 'the media' overreacting. Given the small number of people who read this blog, my bet is that the majority of you are thinking #1. But what you should be thinking is: Who the hell does this in a major political campaign?

Trump's supporters laud the fact that he's a "political outsider". He's never held elected office or even run a campaign for one. Given the Donald's notorious ego, it's not surprising that he'd try to start at the top. But if you are going to go big-time and have generated a substantial amount of support (which he has), the first thing you should think of doing as the presumed outsider is finding people that know how to play the game. You can say that you're not on anyone's payroll and that's a positive thing. But if you're going to run a major campaign, you want people on your payroll that know how to steer the battleship that your effort is going to become (whether you like it or not.) I've kinda been there. When I was chair of GPMI, during our first major election season post-Nader, I pushed the idea that we, as the outsider party, should look for people who didn't seem like the typical political candidates, since that's what people inclined to vote for us would find more appealing. I was wrong. Several of the people that we had on our ticket were simply not suited to the task and the people they had around them to ostensibly help in that task were, likewise, not up to it.

This latest story about Trump's efforts is the primo example to date of why you hire campaign staff with, you know, actual experience running a campaign: 1. So you don't have staffers apparently pulling images from toxic sources (unless you're really interested in promoting your half-assed Nazi connections.) 2. So you don't have said images roll all the way up the chain of approval without someone saying the obvious: "Um, doesn't that look like a Star of David on a pile of money?" 3. So you have enough experienced eyes looking at the image and asking: "Tell me again why you think anyone would assume that's a sheriff's badge and why we'd assume that that would make people think of corruption, especially among GOP voters where law enforcement is usually supported, if not venerated?" This is basic stuff and, even if it was a kneejerk Tweet and, boy, is Donald J. Trump known for kneejerk Tweets (and I don't think it was, since it was a targeted response), you still need someone overseeing ALL external communications by the campaign. Anything. Period. Full stop.

Granted, people are hypersensitive to that kind of imagery.(unless that image actually came from a white supremacist website, in which case, WTF are your staffers doing there?) but, given that, you have to be aware that people are hypersensitive to that kind of imagery. Trump's campaign is already fighting an uphill battle because of his previous (and continuous) statements of idiocy, so you have to know that everything is going to be interpreted through that prism. Everyone knows this, but these people are so out of their depth that this is like watching a David Blaine trick go awry: Man Actually Drowns in Front of Crowd.

It's one thing to be an outsider because you're saying something new. It's another thing to be an outsider because everything you're saying is repellent except to the minor band of crazies that make your public appearances look like a cross between a rock concert and a Klan rally. Good luck winning a national election with that so-called strategy. On the other hand, it is a source of constant entertainment in a period lacking it (which is why I stopped reviewing Preacher; I'll write something about that soon.)

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