The popularity of Donald Trump initially stumped political experts. Now, they try to understand how he did it.
One reason was his appeal to emotions – and to people who had bottled up emotions they needed to pour out.
Here’s another reason: We know him. That’s right, we know him. Donald Trump understood this in his 20’s. He was a media man, who created an image as a swashbuckling entrepreneur.
He got himself depicted in places like the magazine inserted into the Sunday newspaper. He and his beautiful wife were a team. They worked long hours, together. The result was that he built a relationship with millions of people. Among them were investors and bankers, people who would help him in his then career, real estate. When he showed up for a loan or pitched a project to investors, they already knew him.
After a lull, he returned to the media. This time it was as a “reality” show host. In it, he depicts himself as a tough guy, someone not to be reckoned with. If you don’t do the job, you’re fired. Period. No coddling. Again, he reached millions, and many of them are . . . voters.
In both cases, what Trump did was to create a relationship. True, he defined the relationship with an image. What is more important than his image, however, is that he created a relationship. We know him. It’s The Donald.
Think about it. Millions of people who have never met a movie star will cry when he dies or divorces or gains weight or whatever.
Think about it. If you have a child or a brother who’s not the greatest, you still support him. After all, you’re in a relationship with him. You know him. Yeah, he’s a bit of a problem or a loose cannon or a (bit of) a bully or whatever. Nobody’s perfect, right? Well, we tend to support people we’re in a relationship with.
Politicians try to make a relationship/connection with voters, when they wear a hardhat. That might help some, but it’s only the germ of a relationship. An enduring relationship is a powerful thing. And that is what Trump created. Like him or not, millions are in a relationship with him. He created a neurological attachment that is beyond logic, or rather more profound than logic.
Besides supporting those we are in a relationship with, we also do not like separating from them. So, millions excuse Donnie for his shortcomings and stick with him because, just because, because we know him.
Next post will talk about the limits of relationships.
Mel Lurie, M.D.