Donald Trump’s Winning Formula: Transforming the GOP Landscape
“When I see Trump, I think of Michael Jordan,” said a close American friend during my study abroad in the U.S. He said that Trump, like NBA superstars, continues to win elections despite breaking all the rules of victory.
In the NBA, the U.S. professional basketball league, the teams use something called a “playbook.” Simply put, a playbook is a sort of “collection of the pre-arranged schemes” that specify how players should move in their offenses and defenses. The coaches of the NBA teams develop their playbooks, and the players commit to the tactics, patterns, and so on from the coach’s playbook to contribute to the team’s performance.
With an average franchise history of over 80 years, the NBA teams have amassed hundreds of victories and defeats throughout the years as they have assimilated their winning strategies into their playbooks. Typically, players trust the team’s history and strive to follow the playbook in their games.
However, every once in a while, there are players who defy these pre-arrangements and yet still lead their teams to victory. These players don’t follow the established methods but use their skills to score and make their teammates follow their plays. Eventually, the teams adapt their playbooks to suit these players, and everyone from the coaches to the players participates in the game for these players. In the NBA, these players are called “superstars.”
My friend probably associated former President Donald Trump with an NBA superstar for this reason. The Republican Party in the United States also had a winning strategy similar to an NBA playbook. For centuries, the Republican Party analyzed and meticulously recorded how to win elections and the causes of defeat. The party’s stalwart advisers consistently passed this on to the candidates.
Candidates commit to what they should and shouldn’t say in elections based on the advice of their advisers. They studied how to respond to crises and exploit their opponent’s weaknesses. However, former President Donald Trump raised his approval ratings while not adhering to this playbook culture and even outright denying the taboos mentioned in the playbook.
Despite facing various legal problems, including accusations of rape, fraud, and incitement to insurrection, and uttering words mixed with racial and sexual discrimination, media suppression, and sexual harassment, which were considered absolute taboos in American politics, former President Trump received enthusiastic cheers from his supporters. Trump, who Republican politicians heavily criticized in the early days of his political career, did not succumb to their criticism and firmly pushed his style instead, repeatedly achieving his victory.
Eventually, as the 45th president of the United States, he firmly established himself as the “superstar” of the Republican Party. It seems that the Republican Party is rewriting its playbook to suit Trump. Mainstream Republican members have long become “pro-Trump,” and Republican politicians race to follow Trump’s rhetoric and political stance. There is even a joke floating around American politics that being called “Little Trump” is the highest compliment for Republican members these days.
Former President Trump recorded back-to-back victories in the Republican primary elections held on the 15th and 24th and has a high chance of becoming the final presidential candidate for the Republican Party. All eyes are on whether former President Trump will win this presidential election and gift victory to the Republican Party, just like an NBA superstar who gifts victories to his team with his unique style.