Could You Possibly Learn Something from Donald Trump?
Trill or not Trill?
Whether or not you follow politics you may be aware of a few things. Obama is counting down the days until he is no longer commander in chief, a teenage kid from Minnesota under the campaign name “Deez Nuts” was polling at 9% at one point, and Hillary’s Yahoo account and then there’s Donald Trump. That’s right, the man who we all know from the show “The Apprentice” and also his multibillion dollar real estate company is running for president. In fact, especially if you’re from the great state of New Jersey, you have probably unwillingly given him money that one time you went to that Bachelor party in Atlantic City and told yourself you would only spend 100 bucks at his Taj Mahal themed casino. A few complimentary drinks later and you realized you had just spent your rent money for the month. And sure he kind of looks like Scrooge McDuck from DuckTales, and probably swims in his own money bin for fun on the weekends. But there is something about this guy. A man not known for being a politician is leading all presidential candidates across the board. Now listen, I know our history has shown that you do not necessarily NEED to be into politics to run for any political office (See Arnold Schwarzenegger; also Ronald Reagan); however, this is the guy we least expected to be in the running. I hated the idea initially, but there is something about his authenticity, tenacity and arrogance that has intrigued me. This is not to say that I will vote for him or support his racist views on “lazy Mexicans” and objectification of women, but he knows how to push people’s buttons and get a reaction. There is much to learn here as a student leader who is thinking about running for office in their campus for an organization or club.
Run on your Strengths
Do not take yourself out of the game just because you lack experience and feel like you are not the “ideal” candidate. The moment you think you are not good enough is the moment you have lost the race. Let’s take a look at Trump. He has been successful by simply understanding who he is as a person and working off his strengths. He is an aggressive, confident public speaker, who has connections up the whazoo and is filthy rich. He is not pretending to be a politician. In fact, any time anyone questions his lack of political experience, he defends himself by stating he is a business man first, which according to Trump is what America needs. That’s what you need to be able to do. Figure out what you are good at and exploit that in your campaign consistently (if discrimination is your thing, don’t do that, though). If you are struggling with finding your strengths, you may want to ask your peers and administrators or have a brainstorming session with yourself. If you took a few hours to browse through videos of Donald Trump, you will find he is reiterating the same ideas and concepts throughout his speeches. He does an exceptional job at refocusing our attention on what he does well rather than giving you the chance to question the qualities he lacks. Ultimately, you want to be firm for what you believe in and stand your ground despite what the outcome is.
Don’t Do It All Yourself
A great asset of Donald Trump’s is that he knows people. A lot of people. Now, you don’t have to know everyone but you should know who you want to have working aside you. Trump is constantly stating that he may not have the skills himself to do the job but he knows people that can get the job done. This may seem like he is exposing his weakness, however, arrogance aside, I think it does just the opposite. He shows a great deal of understanding that there are people around him that are experts in the topics he is not. He highlighted this idea in his Presidential Announcement back in June stating, “Hey, I have lobbyists I have to tell you. I have lobbyists that can produce anything for me. They’re great”. You may not have all of the expertise about the office you are running for but you may know someone who does. Do not be afraid to expose this idea. This will also show your ability and willingness to work with other people without pretending you are the only expert in the room. For example, if you are an employee of the bookstore you may concentrate your focus on selling the idea that you may be able to work with the manager to bring lower book prices. Or if you are part of any committee or mentoring program on campus, why not let the students know that you have a great relationship with the Vice President. This is much more powerful than trying to pretend that you can do it all yourself. It is impossible. Just as Trump did, you have to be able to turn what is perceived as a weakness into one of the great assets of a true leader.
Don’t Piss People Off
What Trump has done in politics is similar to what Kanye West has done to hip hop. (Ok, hear me out) Kanye is a great rapper and horrific singer and yet he managed to make a single with the great Paul McCartney (and Rihanna was supposedly there too) entitled “FourFiveSeconds”. I’d give Kanye four to five seconds to stop autotuning with the Beatles and start rapping again but that’s just me. Truth is, Kanye doesn’t care about what you think because he is confident in himself and calls people out when he feels like it. Most of the time, we agree with Kanye. Like, are we still going to sit here and act like Beyonce didn’t have one of the best videos of all time? The problem wasn’t WHAT he said it was HOW he said it. This is the same with Donald Trump. During his last debate, he called out Jeb Bush for taking donations from big corporations, Hilary Clinton on destroying confidential information, and Governor Scott Walker for creating a $2.2B debt in Wisconsin. It wasn’t what he said, it was how he rudely interrupted the other candidates and spoke out of turn. Your role as a student leader running for office is to not piss people off. The way you market yourself should be more about what you are going to do to bring change rather than trying to disprove someone else’s beliefs.
During debates and while campaigning you should not attack your opponents or get defensive when being asked a question on your own policy. This is Trump’s greatest weakness (along with the racism and sexism thing) because it makes him seem childish. In a recent debate after being asked about his capabilities to be in charge of nuclear weapons, he quickly attacked Rand Paul by pointing out that he did not belong on the stage because he polled at a low 1 percent. Clearly, Trump had no answer and rather than trying to come up with a vague and generic response he attacked another candidate. Paul rebutted by questioning Trump’s judgment and showed concern about whether this was the type of candidate we would want negotiating with Putin. He was right. Even if something is true about your opponent, that does not mean you have to state it, let the students voting decide that. Use that energy to show why you are perfect for the job by reiterating your own beliefs and changes you wish to make.
Start Your Run Early
Donald Trump is the person we learned to hate on television, yet we still want to hang out with him and give him our money so that we can be entertained, because he kinda has good ideas(outside the whole racism and sexism problem). Just like your middle school bully, he deflects comments about his incompetence by pointing out everyone else’s flaws. I’ll be honest, his approach has got me thinking about the other politicians in question but it also brings up concerning issues about Donald Trump’s character. Do I want a man who yells at people and points finger running my country? This is the same question you ought to ask yourself about as it pertains to your campus. Always be cognizant of how you are representing yourself and how other people are perceiving you. As a student leader, you want to come off as genuine, likeable and approachable rather than overbearing, impolite and a bully. This means that your run for office should start before you even begin to campaign. The moment you set foot in a club or organization as a member is the moment you should be representing yourself as a potential candidate. Doing anything from acting professional, to taking the extra time to help out the club and organization, to bringing new ideas and executing is beneficial. Trust me, administrators and other student leaders will take notice of your abilities and will want you to take part into larger roles.
I think what will happen, just as is true for the menace from grammar school, is that Trump will end up being left behind in this race and no one will care. I think when it all comes down to it we are going to find that his politically incorrectness and rudeness will not be good enough to negotiate deals with the Putins of the world. However, there is no reason why we can’t enjoy the ride and learn something from him. He is the living example of the phrase “Fake it til you make it” and for that I can appreciate him. #Kanyeforprez2020
Antonio Talamo, M.A., is student affairs professional at Hudson Community College