Part of Donald Trump’s appeal – both to die-hard Trumpers and people in the middle of the road who don’t care much for politics – is that he does things spontaneously. Talk to a Trump supporter and they’ll tell you that he goes with his gut and speaks what’s on his mind – even if his gut instinct is wrong and whatever’s on his mind is inaccurate, offensive or both. A non-politician always seems appealing to some people, particularly those who don’t understand how it works.
It turns out that Donald Trump isn’t actually the maverick he likes to think of himself as. As erratic as he might seem in his decision making, he’s likely just following a strategy he was given by the Republican Party, something a former party operative revealed in a Vice interview.
The year before Trump announced a presidential run, he hired Republican Party operative Doug Davenport to write him a strategy memo detailing the formula that is instantly recognizable as a blueprint for one of his rallies – a departure from the usual town hall setup we see when presidential candidates kick off their campaigns. The memo also specifically directs Trump to talk about American greatness and his unique style of time-tested leadership. Anyone who followed his professional career before he was on TV knows this is all nonsense, but Davenport outlined the Trump brand of politics in a memo that Trump seemed to approve with a brief handwritten note: “Sam-, I like Doug. His memo to me was great. Please set up another meeting- Thanks.”
While the format of his rallies has either been seen as a sign of Trump’s eccentric genius or a deliberate authoritarian platform, it seems we can credit the GOP with creating them – and merely giving Donald Trump the opportunity to talk about how great he is. The memo further talks about Trump’s larger than life personality and suggests he has the strongest chance of winning the nomination – largely because he was more well known than the rest of the Republican Party’s prospective candidates.
What Davenport saw in Donald Trump is likely what the rest of the GOP ended up seeing when it was clear Trump would be the nominee – a battering ram to push through their donor tax cuts and install right-wing judges. It’s hardly a wonder that much of the party followed him in lockstep and why they rarely speak out against him – his rhetoric is rarely a far cry from what they want to say.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making