Pundits are convinced Donald Trump is set to fail, now that he has to cash the cheques his mouth has been writing for the last year. This underestimates and misunderstands the power of narrative: the Donald will talk his way out of his failures indefinitely.
President Trump (Yes, you have to use those words now) has a long, rich history of making things up. Most recently it was at his inauguration, where a crowd of 250,000 (the lowest in recent history) magically transformed into “a million, million and a half people.” Such shenanigans are nothing new for The Donald, whose penchant for pulling numbers and facts out his derriere has been rigorously documented.
Pundits far and wide are convinced that now that The Great Pumpkin has to walk the talk, he’s in trouble, given that most of what he says is impossible to achieve, including increasing prosperity by killing trade, making another country pay for a wall the U.S. builds, and more.
This assumption that Trump’s about to hoist himself on his own petard ignores both how Trump got into office and how people like him get away with murder: the power of narrative.
Trump swept to power not on the strength of any truth in his cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs policies, but on the narrative he sold people:
- I’m going to make life better for you.
- I’m going to make our country great again.
- I’m going to get your jobs back.
These narratives got someone with four bankruptcies and serial business flops elected on a campaign of somehow being an ace businessman, which tells you all you need to know: narrative trumps facts every time. Because of that, Donald Trump will be able to wiggle his way indefinitely out of failures to deliver on his promises.
He’s already wiggled his way out of his claim that Mexico will pay for the wall he wants to build: they’ll just pay for it later. Remember how he was going to lock up Hillary Clinton? Turns out the country “owes her a debt of gratitude” and she can roam free for now.
This is how Trump can avoid paying the piper indefinitely: change the narrative.
- Factory jobs not flowing back to America? Expect to hear that it’s thanks to foreigners cheating on trade, not because homegrown automation is eliminating the need for people on production lines.
- ISIS still around in 2021? Certainly not because you can’t bomb an ideology into submission; instead, wait for a narrative about how local governments are aiding and abetting the terrorists. Expect bombs to start falling on said governments shortly thereafter.
- Gays still marrying gays? Not through any failure of Donald’s stated policy, but because the homo-loving Supreme Court opposes the will of the American people, or a narrative to that effect.
The belief that truth will ride in on its big white horse and kick Trump’s ass once he takes office is comforting, but naive: narrative rarely fails to trump facts, and this will continue for the foreseeable future.