An Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dear Donald,

You are doing very well, and better still you are having a wonderful time while doing it. But there's a trick or two that you may be missing, the emphasis upon which would be easy to add to your extemporaneous orations.

How does a revolution happen in America? It isn't by setting up the barricades and storming the Bastille. It isn't by guerillas in the hills capturing the capital on New Year's Eve. And of course it isn't by the silly insignificance of occupying Wall Street, or Main Street, or even easy Street.

It's by electing Donald Trump.

In 2008, Barack Obama was able to sweep the primaries first, and then the country by promising change. When you look back on it, change was the only thing that people were voting for that year--Hillary would certainly have been a better choice in the primaries for many reasons, perhaps even for every reason. John McCain was a sort of heir apparent, beloved as only a war hero can be beloved. He was also very experienced and pleasantly iconoclastic- but not revolutionary.

As it turned out, the most significant change that Barack Obama brought to the White House was that a member of a minority group was elected to the country's highest office. And for many reasons, sadly, another change came about - an absolute congressional deadlock which grew to absurd proportions during the course of his term. It isn't easy to remember the opposition vowing to oppose every initiative, starting on the day of the new president's inauguration. By the beginning of the President's last year in office, the deadlock was absolute, empowering Republican leaders to come out and state something completely outrageous in an almost offhand manner, to the effect that no nominee for the Supreme Court proposed by Obama would even be considered, despite all of the history and constitutional language that would militate for the contrary.

Like so many of his predecessors, uninspiring or otherwise, Obama promised "revolution." But it was easy to know that he would deliver nothing but more of the same, because Obama was the product of a system that has produced "conventional" presidential candidates, right down to that Harvard degree. This is why, ultimately and despite the undeniable latent racism that still exists in the United States, the Democratic Party "establishment" embraced Obama's candidacy.

A revolution cannot be identified by the raucous attacks of the opposition; you can know it's a revolution only when the elders (and many others) in your own party organize to stop you at any cost.

The last "revolution" happened in America when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. For more than a decade prior to his first run at the nomination in 1976, he was the subject of fairly violent attacks from his Republican brethren, who thought of him as being a Democrat (which of course he was, like you, for many years.) Depending on who you listened to he was a moron, or a cowboy, or dangerously unpredictable, or a crazy extreme rightist who might press the button at any moment.

It was the opposition from his own party that let you know that Reagan was different. The opposition quieted over the course of the many years between his political prominence in California and his ultimate election in 1980, but that was probably because Reagan himself mellowed and was less "revolutionary" than he was when he first switched parties--but imagine what he might have been like had he won in 1976. As a result of that mellowing what is commonly referred to as the 'Reagan revolution" was a marked change in the direction of the country, but not a true revolution. And of course since his retirement and particularly since his passing, Reagan has been beatified by all Republicans and quite a few Democrats. The Republicans go so far as to identify themselves as "the party of Lincoln and Reagan."

As we both know, however, your election would truly be a revolution -- a basic change in the way that politics happens in the United States. So this is the point you need to emphasize: you really will be different, because the "establishments" of both parties will never accept you until you are actually elected (if then,) presuming that you will be elected because some form of democracy still operates in the US, and ultimately the people's votes will select both the candidates and the president.

In order to drive this point home, you need to get your quants (you can always borrow some from Icahn) to develop the "Measure of Internal Party Opposition" or the MIPO index. I am certain that a close examination of 20th-century presidential races in the United States will show that the greater the MIPO, the greater likelihood of eventual election and great success while in office. In this Twitter-crazed, statistically driven, soundbite world that we live in, it is wise to rely on the reassuring appearance of authority created by a numerical index.

Thus your future speeches should embrace the opposition that is organizing against you, by praising it and telling your acolytes to appreciate it. It shows that you are a candidate that really can deliver change; it shows that you are a candidate who can get elected in November; and it shows that you are not intimidated by Romney or the Koch brothers or anyone else, which will enhance your Putin-like image of strength. Just as all of the harsh criticisms of your statements and past actions have turned into either beneficial or meaningless forays, so the "establishment" opposition is manna from heaven. Use it.


David Bergstein