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Back in November, I proposed a solution for Donald Trump haters: Encourage him. The usual tricks have failed so it's time to think different, I reasoned. I wasn't kidding. From the perspective of The Standard Table of Influence, none of the 24 plays one might consider conventional, comfortable or low-risk have worked.
What might work is what's hardest to do: Help The Donald or get out of his way.
Remember that Rick Perry used labels to coin the term of trumps and issue challenges to reject Trump's faux republican stance -- each a tried and true strategy in any politician's arsenal. Jeb Bush preferred the high road, again proving the Playmaker aphorism that high roads go nowhere. He passed and paused, only to look evasive and stunned -- each a play of preference for bob-and-weave candidates.
Slapped with Trump's own labels -- that he's weak and low energy -- Bush next tried to divert the zingers with easy-to-read deflects (I'm not going to wrestle with a pig) and red herrings (That's not what my leadership is about). These, too, are simple strategies that rate in our table as low-engagement.
Bush has lately dabbled with more substantive moves, like mirrors to prove his executive competence. But Jeb misses the point. This election is not about fixing the system. It's about breaking it.
Marco Rubio and Chris Christie have followed suit with similar results. Only Ted Cruz has done better, thanks to his shrewd and early decision to draft The Donald. But as drafts demand, Cruz has finally had to make his move to pass the billionaire. Instead he's headed for the pitts, gasping and grasping for answers to Trump's insinuations of Canadian citizenship and allegations of a mis-reported Wall Street-style-loan.
What remains to be tried is something anathema to any competitor: Accelerate a rival's success by literally running his plays for him. Peacocks, call outs and baits, in particularly. It's not a job for Trump's campaign rivals. Their playbooks are exhausted. It's for their surrogates, particularly of the partner ilk -- the GOP party father's whose machinery and mission Trump has jammed.
What they must dare to do is to invite more of what they despise: Showmanship, bombast, superficiality, bigotry, white privilege, and religious ignorance. Here are a few suggestions for how:
1. Get out of Trump's way. Convince his rivals to play for second, for now, and play for the mainstream conservatives.
2. Showcase Trump's supporters. Animate the angry people that love him. Show America who's vaulting Trump to the top. It's a picture that might give new meaning to entitlement.
3. Give a spotlight to Trump's principal surrogates, from his hidden supermodel wife to the opportunistic Sarah Palin.
4. Provide every convenience for Trump to communicate his ideas. After all, the more media cycles he has to fill the more substance he has to provide. Instruct candidates not to demand equal time for his out-sized interviews.
5. Move as quickly as possible. Strategies 1-4 won't work past Super Tuesday.
6. Behind the scenes, keep the opposition research going. You just might find something that even Sarah Palin can't abide.
What I'm prescribing is a kind of mass action by Trump's detractors to briefly camouflage their hatred and join his parade -- to accelerate, not slow, his message and candidacy. It banks on the wisdom and conscience of the electorate, particularly Trump's enthusiastic base, but it's a strategy that could redline and melt the fast-running engine of a political juggernaut. What else but Trump's own momentum will stop him?
Illustrations courtesy of Playmaker Systems, LLC and content from Donald Trump's Facebook.