Trump Talking: Hillary's Achilles' Heel

Illustration by: Lightwise/123rf

Here's the thing. Donald Trump is inspirational. At least to a sizable group of people.

You may not like him. You may not like his message. You can be offended, angered, dumbfounded. But the fact is he's inspired people to action on every side. Millions are quivering with excitement and hope that he will lead them, regardless of missteps and public feuds. Others are working to stop an end-of-the world-as-we-know-it disaster.

Why is that?

The one thing you're not hearing through all the analysis is this: It's not WHAT Donald Trump says. It's HOW he says it.

His now famous moniker to "tell it like it is", is appealing to millions. More than the message, though, it's how he talks to the people ready to hear it.

Simply put, he talks. Even when he shouts.

The simple secret is that Trump holds a conversation. Plainly. Small group or large. He doesn't seem to prepare. Talks off-the-cuff. He isn't scripted, as his troubles since the RNC clearly show. He doesn't "speechify". He just speaks--as if you were in a bar with him.

Somehow, that perceived frankness has shot him to the top of the heap as the guy many want in the foxhole with them. The lies and embellishments don't matter, because he lets his hair down with you. You look past the bluster because he's honest enough to open up and not to couch language. In politics, today, that is refreshing. And revolutionary.

From a personal communications standpoint that's a powerful, jaw-dropping reality.

In Pennsylvania in June, quoting Abraham Lincoln, Trump related to "everyman" when he said,

"He understood it better than our current politicians."

Then later,

"We've turned things completely upside down. How can it happen?"

Or from a NYC speech:

"When I see the crumbling roads and bridges...I know these problems can all be fixed--not by Hillary Clinton. Only by me."

Hillary Clinton, with her decades of public service, measured calm and intelligence might seem, to many, better suited for the position as "leader of the free world". And yet, she can't shake the "untrustworthy liar" tag.

Why? She's a speechifier.

Hillary speaks like a college professor. She's moving to a better place, but she continues to give lessons and communicates in platitudes and overarching symbolism. She often finds herself like Charlie Brown's teacher in Charles Shultz comic strips. "Waa-wah-wah wah wah." As my 14-year-old son says when he hears her (he was all in for Bernie Sanders), "It's a lot of talking about nothing." You know something's being said, but nothing really inspires you to look up.

In Springfield, Illinois in July, Hillary meandered with this:

"President Lincoln led America during the most challenging period in our nation's history. He defended our union, our constitution and the ideals of a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal... I'm here because the words Lincoln spoke all those years ago, still hold resonance here for us now."

Pretty words, but in today's world, can she just get to the point quickly and with charisma?

Franklin Roosevelt had a tough time winning support for the British in WWII. Roosevelt's communications success finally came when he began talking to the nation on the radio. He just talked. His more common speech patterns made people feel better about their lives and about him. He didn't come across as one of the Eastern Elite, of which he so obviously was.

Roosevelt was able to sell a fairly unpopular idea-- a war-- by chatting and relating to his public.

We've heard stories of Hillary Clinton's one-on-one warmth. I know of staunch Republicans who've been charmed by her sincerity and work ethic. She needs to tap into that now if she wants to really walk away with this election. She should have it done a long time go.

Speak, Hillary. Don't speechify.

It's not dumbing down the message if she lets her inner teacher step aside to allow her inner enthusiastic neighbor take the lead.

You know that neighbor--the one who chats with you over the fence. She's the one who, as you walk away after the encounter, inspires you to say, "Boy, I love spending time with her."

Not the neighbor who gives you a well-researched dissertation about the dangers of overwatering your lawn.

No one ever hears what she's saying.