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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Descolada: Trump, the KKK, American Ills and Leadership

"@ilduce2016: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” – @realDonaldTrump"

Trump and the KKK.  It makes for a very tempting target.  Finally, Trump's multiple foes (most of whom have been attacked by him) say, we've got him.  We can give him a taste of his own medicine and expose to the world what he really is.

Don't do it.

Donald Trump is better at the attack-and-deflect game than you are.  That, and the public doesn't trust most of you - the GOP, the Democrats, the media and many pundits - anyway.  To put him in your crossfire is to feed into his game, to bring the war to his ground.  You won't win.

Instead, take a look at what happened in Canada's recent federal election.  Divisivenesses became a wedge-tool on the side of the governing Conservatives.  The new government rejected divisiveness and kept the focus on something else; a vision of what the country, at its best, can be.

Justin Trudeau didn't strike back at Stephen Harper, positioning himself as the guy to beat the incumbent (though that was part of his team's messaging).  Instead, everything the Conservatives through at him became a contrast, a teachable moment about why that vision was necessary.

It ultimately doesn't matter who Trump associates with.  He is a symptom, not a disease.  To make him your enemy is to play to his strengths, and to your weaknesses.

That's not how you will beat him.

Donald Trump is the embodiment of what is wrong with the system, but the problem is the system itself.  Politicians win by picking fights and building coalitions - all politicians do this.  It doesn't matter whether it's one celebrity, or one interest group, or a nation like Saudi Arabia - ultimately, it's variations on a theme.  It's this strategic opportunism that people mistrust.

Trump claims to say things like they are, and that's where his appeal lies - he is not beholden to interest groups, the refrain grows.

By demonstrating how the system has let the American people down, has marginalized their voice and give rise to wedge-politics, strategic funding and strategic partnerships instead of true democracy, you have the power to show the American public that Trump is really no different than any other politician.

The challenge, if you choose this approach, you are creating a set of expectations no one believes you to be prepared or even willing to meet.  They need to believe that you are there for them, all of them.

If you cannot defeat Trump, the symptom of America's deep-rooted societal illness, then that says something about your place in the American ecosystem as well.

Leadership isn't about strategy and it isn't about winning.  It's about empowerment.  Trump cannot understand this.  

It'll take a great deal of bridge-building and trust-nurturing, but Americans will rally to the person who does understand leadership.

And that person will have faith in them.

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