I've been bitten by the Donald Trump bug. Rick Perry will tell me I've got a bad case of trumpism.
Mind you, I'm not about to hang a chad for The Donald. He's more a muse and a teaching prop for the American electorate than my perfect POTUS. I feel the same way about Bernie Sanders, if you're counting. I'm a progressive socialist-democratic-moderate-conservative in a kind of fundamentalist way.
But I have to marvel at Trump and his art-of-the-deal frame. It's not actually about ego. It's about business. It's about quid-pro-quo. About winning. Leverage. And with respect to American voters, it's about getting back what we've given away too freely.
From my own frame -- influence strategy -- Trump's a fluid and instinctive playmaker who operates predictably in the high-engagement territory of The Standard Table of Influence. He's up there with Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and Sir Richard Branson for his ability to manage media and change minds.
I contracted his virtual virus this weekend, channel surfing the political spectrum. Whether on MSNBC, Al Jazeera or FOX, the billionaire's bloviations morphed suddenly for me into public lectures on business. What Trump is teaching us, perhaps unwittingly, is that Americans are too nice and too loose with their change. Generosity has a price, he's saying, because too much given is too much lost. Stop being chumps and start negotiating. These are his messages. About illegal immigrants, he's indeed saying coldly, "They have to go." And about Americans he's saying bluntly, we have to get going.
Trump owes his success to two influence plays: First, a preemptive strategy that is ironically called the Trump. Named in fact for the game-changing move of a bridge player, it's the strategy that grabs what others are owning and runs with it. Second, the Peacock, the play that struts a player's stuff. Think helicopter, hair and supermodels. Both get him the necessary notoriety and control of the narrative, however relevant to the subject.
While these plays cheapen the candidate they ensure that his rhetoric registers. They are also the plays that befuddle pundits. I laughed out loud listening Sunday to two CNN reporters, aghast by the enthusiastic outtakes of a Trump-loving Iowa family. What did we miss here? one asked the other.
What they missed are the plays and their masterful application. However you rank Trump's morals or motives his sense of strategy is, so far, remarkable.
A consultant who calls himself a reputation doctor lectured me recently about Trump's hollow soul and his need for more virtuous things. Trust, honest, humility, transparency, accountability and consistency were his prescriptions. But polls are better than Boy Scout Laws and by the numbers it's clear that The Donald's reputation needs no rehabilitation.
There is a cure for trumpism. It's called rationalism, and it comes after a good night's sleep. What we have in Donald Trump is a showman extraordinaire who's plays, while clownish, break through the clutter to teach us that everything is fungible, everything is negotiable, and that our national predicaments might be corrected through better business practice. It's less a disease than a dialog, and one worth having.
Graphic courtesy of Playmaker Systems with content from Donald Trump's Facebook.