Trump and Bannon are master marketers
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President Trump has surely had one of the most interesting starts of any American President.

For many observers, his presidency has been filled with problems. His brash style with reporters and bombastic tweets against those who oppose his agenda have left many D.C. insiders trying to understand this new normal. His relentless attacks on the media and his untraditional way of handling press conferences, telling reporters to "sit down" or calling their coverage "fake news," has dismayed the "mainstream" media and caused many pundits and analyst alike to go after Trump at every chance.

Some of their critiques are legitimate, but some may not be and based purely on fear and misunderstanding of the man and those who supported and continue to support him throughout it all.

What I have learned since observing and analyzing Trump during candidacy and now his presidency is the apparent strategy to his perceived madness — something most have missed, except for a few reporters and pundits such as CNN's Jeffrey Lord and New York Post and Washington Examiner writer Salena Zito.

Most voters view themselves through one of the conventional ideological traditions — liberal, independent or conservative. And by understanding the beliefs and values of said voter, a politician can encourage voters "to suspend their own criticisms, questions, or concerns about the veracity of the candidate" as Karl Mannheim noted.

When describing political strategists, political scientist Stanley Kelly wrote that they "pride themselves on having 'good average minds' that help them to see things as the average man sees them." And that is where senior White House adviser Steve Bannon comes into play.

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Bannon understands an essential concept that many who have written about him or Trump have missed: The concept that a successful politician is built upon a mixture of political ideology, which stands on particular issues (immigration and Muslim refugees); personal style (Trump's tell-it-like-it-is demeanor); and background (businessman turned politician who can change America for the best).

 

All of the above are what led to Trump's success and what will likely be the guiding themes throughout his presidency, but these efforts will be adjusted for different voter segments and the results will constantly be reviewed for further modification.

Trump and, most certainly, Bannon, understand that meeting human and social needs, as noted by marketing expert Philip Kotler, are critically important to Trump's success as president. And at the core, it is the ideology of those supporters that provides a sense of identity many who have analyzed Trump have missed.

Bannon's methodology focuses on ideas and beliefs while encompassing the characteristics, gestures and attitudes of Trump's supporters. From the president ordering a well-done steak and eating it with ketchup — which I can attest is the norm for many in middle America — or his love of McDonald's, or his attacking the press for a "lack of understanding" of how he's trying to "Make America Great Again," while the focuses may seem micro for the moment, I do suspect to see a macro-targeted approach of the issues as Trump's presidency continues.

It would behoove us all to take a closer look at understanding him.

This may all be difficult to understand for those who consider themselves mainstream, but for Trump's base of supporters, it resonates. Optics are critically important in politics and the subtle messages by the president are signals to those who supported him that he understands them and is essentially one of them. Even establishment Republicans never fully supporting Trump (though many have slowly come on board), proves to Republican voters that he is not like the other politicians and that's exactly what they want.

Trump's marketing prowess, along with Bannon's deep and analytical assessment of political ideology, has been spot on. Masking political ideologies and marketing has led to Trump's success as a candidate and could arguably lead to his eventual success as president.

Shermichael Singleton is a Republican political consultant. He's worked on the presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, and most recently Ben Carson, serving as his coalitions adviser. Follow him on Twitter @Shermichael_.


The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.