The Shift of Presidential Campaign Approach and What We Can Learn

If you ever seek a demonstration how progressive the majority of world society has evolved on the way they see their own leader, just nod your head and observe what happened to the world’s political landscape the last couple years. It has been notable that the best possibility for candidate to gain major electorate is when they constantly made a remark about centrist rhetoric on their speech. Back then, a candidate could not afford to be deemed as too radical because becoming so would not only make them unelectable, but also painted themselves as the enemy inside the blanket.

2016 US Presidential Election has attracted so many attentions across the world mainly because the participation of the most controversial candidate The White House has ever countered. The rose to concrete prominence of Donald Trump has shocked the political establishment everywhere and the reasoning is quite logical though. The world could not afford an authoritarian to be the most powerful man on hemisphere. Thus, any attempt to prevent that from happening should be classified as heroism. Unfortunately, it is exactly what happened.

It was not so much about his despicable aura that makes preventing Trump from becoming the 45th president of USA was an agenda that needs to be accomplished at all cost. More so, it was what he promised to do that got him extraordinary number of electorates to vote him on The Election Day. It was his idea that had many feared his victory.

America under Obama made themselves clear in their action against terrorism. Some experts believe US government has gone way too deep to confront the Middle-East proxy wars and directly interfere with the interest of the involved countries at war. The fact that terrorist act on western world happened so regular in monthly basis should come as the least bit of surprise to anyone who pay attention.

A smart politician crafts their campaign strategy to claim hitherto power according to what people needs, but Trump is a smart businessman. When population’s needs have not been met, it is fairly easy to stir them according to your own agenda. Security turmoil had been the headline nationwide for months but the US government were deemed too slow to react. Consequently, people started to question their agenda because for many, US government still leaned themselves towards the oligarch.

Trump, with his sense of entitlement, claimed the stage while bringing his radical ideology in his belly for all of his supporters to swallow. Now, he conquers the globe.

As good Hillary was on rallying mass and getting celebrities to speak on her behalf, she didn’t address these issues in the same manner that Trump did. First of all, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is a genius campaign line on itself. I am not an American, but I believe the rhyme itself sang patriotic cord on everybody who reads it. Contrary to that genius piece of campaign line, I could not even memorize Hillary’s.

Second, Trump’s campaign promise is loved because it sounds anything but real. And let’s be real, we love anything that doesn’t belong to reality. We love Superman for his unreal superpower. We love James Bond because he is the embodiment of relic from Cold War in modern MI6 with swashbuckling aura and he is not real at all. We know US-Mexico Border Wall project sounds bordering ridiculous, but people bought it anyway. I could be wrong, but perhaps it was because it evoked curiosity for swing voters and provided security to his loyal followers.

Third, Trump’s extreme vision for his country is supported by the notorious Islam hater himself, Steve Bannon. This is the man who believes that the West world is at historical struggle with Islam and the narrative this whole election has fit his agenda wonderfully. I personally don’t believe that Trump despises Muslim that much, but Bannon certainly does. Both of them encouraged Islamophobia as the main theme of their campaign and The Muslim Ban policy should not surprise us because it is just the culmination of remarks they chose to encourage. But it did surprise us anyway. Trump probably was forced to do that to feed his interest. After all, he is a billionaire and a billionaire knows better than most to put aside the personal conflict in exchange for collective interest.

I could go on talking about his diplomatic relationship with Putin or his business interests on Middle East countries but my point remains clear. Trump may looks dirty for the outside world but to his follower, he is anything but evil. At best, he is a saint for them. At worst, this guy could provide the security they dreamed of. For those who idolize him, Trump’s biggest appeal is his audacity to say what everyone has been thinking (but afraid to say) and his tendency to be bold on his speeches. A potential leader with this kind of traits usually is perceived as one man wrecking crew who’s ready to bring the world to havoc in lieu of the prosperity of his people.

Whether you believe it or not, the reasoning is similar to those who supports Ahok.

Let’s take a look to UK. Jeremy Corbyn of UK Labour Party had opted for softer manner when delivering his speech in front of the spectator during campaign period. In a world full of harsh and provocative remarks, what Corbyn did was inspiring to say the least. Many predicted The 2017 General Election to be the final chapter of Labour Party and will strengthen of The Tory’s hold over the parliament, but Corbyn led them through the thick and has given nothing but an array of ideas when delivering his vision to the people.

He refused to engage in personal attack. He believed that his ideas alone (albeit quite unorthodox) are enough to give people the assurance they need. A lot of people thought he is not appealing enough to run the country. And guess what, gold doesn’t appeal to lion like it did to human. Consequently, we all witnessed what result patience could bring to the table.

Marine Le Pens was the presidential candidate of France. Her political campaign put a lot of focus on the revival of sovereignty in terms of economy and security. As the president of far-right movement (France’s National Front Party), it would be a major struggle to disassociate her name from delicate issues such as racism and xenophobia. She realized that if this issue was not being tackled directly, it would cause her more harm than good.

For this reason, she made herself clear that her focus would be to regain the control over the country, much like what Trump promised albeit in softer manner. This approach proved to be successful following massive support from young voters aged 18-24 years old. A conservative may raise their eyebrows and deemed her and her volunteer as radical or extremist. But apparently, her approach had the similar appeal to the leaders who have been mentioned in this post previously. Their appeals are too valuable to be resisted for people who desire change, even if the plan for that change sounds borderline lunatic.

Today people see their leader in quite different lens to the one they used in previous decade. People like Donald Trump or Ahok or Jeremy Corbyn or Marine Le Pens, they don’t belong to the center. Instead, they demonstrated a blatant political partisanship to one side or the other and only focused on those who support them. Once you loathe them, you will never escape that perception towards them. The same thing happens once you start to bet for them.

Many pundits have argued what appeals electorate so hard into voting for someone who positioned themselves so far from the center. Some may argue that people now are unwilling to sit through pleasantries and formalities, and would prefer a candidate who can deliver their vision in clear cut manner. Not so much about sugarcoated words, just a pack of actionable and definitive plan that can give them assurance they could not find in the current or previous government. For conservative, the approach could be downright sickening just like what happened in 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election.

I believe that this is a valuable leadership lesson for everyone. The tense among our country’s politicians are climbing up every day, with the pinnacle is predicted to take place in less than 24 months. And perhaps, we all can learn something from this phenomena. Our perception towards how ideal leaders are supposed to look has shifted into someone who is bold and precise on their visions. It is not always about the totem because we have grown to care less and less each day about the symbol. What we actually desire is concrete improvement.

And should this be a reminder for us all that anyone who tries to gain an absolute power on this country is by listening to people and actually put the word right where their mouth is, then so be it.

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evanfabio

An occasional blogger. Student at Industrial Engineering Universitas Gadjah Mada.

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