So, What's Really the Difference?
We had hoped he would go away - would fade into oblivion and that a viable candidate would rise like cream to the top. But, we were wrong. Individually, we knew that he had a chance but, collectively, we said he would never make it out of the primaries. He did. Maybe we underestimated him because we thought, surely, Americans are much better than this. We are still holding out hope for November.
In the midst of what has become one of the most interesting, yet sobering and vastly divisive Presidential races in modern history, I, like many Americans, find myself dumbfounded on a near-daily basis. We simply can't help but look at this train wreck as it happens. Sure, the more "evolved" areas of our brains whisper, "Turn away. You shouldn't look at this." Yet, we remain intrigued by a strange man - a bit of a bumbling fool, I would say - who is now the GOP's Presidential Nominee. Damn! How did we get here? I have my theories but, right now, I don't wish to expound on them. He's here and we've got to deal with him. However, I am still deeply fascinated at folks who have surmised an inkling of reasoning (if we wish to call it that) to support his campaign.
"He's a businessman." That's what they say. So, so many of them regurgitate that phrase like a week's-old breakfast. I mean, they call it a qualification. I call it out a cop-out. It feels very convenient yet very empty. Nonetheless, it made me think about someone else who, in the past few years, has become very successful at "business", too. Her name: Kim Kardashian West. Now, would Americans take her seriously, if she were to run for high office?
Simply put: what's the difference between Donald J. Trump and Kim Kardashian West? I mean, obviously, she's far more beautiful and much less orange. Oh, yeah, and she hasn't yet sought political office (although her husband has announced his candidacy). But, when I break down the component pieces, especially from a business perspective, they seem to have much in common.
(1) Thanks Dad: How did Donald Trump get his start in business? His father. How did Kim Kardashian get her start in business? Her father. By his own admission, The Donald received a hefty $1 million dollar "loan" from dad to get his business off the ground while Kim, with her siblings, inherited her father's company. Both were pretty well set from the start. It's easy to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when they are Givenchy.
(2) Marketing 101: Kim knows her audience. Donald knows his audience. They both play to their fans and supporters very well. They speak their language and they know what to do and say to get them going. Hey, it's no wonder that both Trump and Kardashian have licensed their names and likeness to hock pretty much everything. He's thrown Trump on suits, universities, steaks and real estate. She's slapped Kardashian on clothes, workout DVDs, perfumes and mobile apps. Their fans/supporters are the gifts that keep on...buying.
(3) Altered Reality: "You're fired!" became a line that Trump made famous (although I'm pretty sure it was said and heard many times before) thanks to his reality show, The Apprentice, that later spun off into Celebrity Apprentice. Similarly, KK and the Kardashian-Jenner clan made themselves into household names thanks to their long-running reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. So, yeah, Donnie Boy and Little Kim both enjoy the spotlight of unscripted TV. They've leveraged the platform to increase their fame and fortunes.
(4) Twitter Fingers: If you haven't figured it out by now, Donald Trump has a lot to say in 140 characters. A LOT! Now, it may not all make much sense but those Twitter fingers work overtime. For a man running for POTUS, he is on Twitter like white on rice. Now, listen, I understand and respect that a social media marketing campaign is absolutely necessary for political candidates running in this age. But, Geeze Louise! I can only hope that there is actually a prepubescent teen behind Trump's Twitter handle. It would explain quite a lot. But, let's be real. It's Donald. He is fast and furious and, in this category, he actually has Kim beat. Still, Mrs. West is a formidable opponent as she will tweet, IG and Snapchat a naked selfie in 60 seconds flat. If social media were the English language, they would have an unparalleled command of it!
Which brings me back to my question: Would Americans - specifically Trump supporters - take Kim Kardashian West seriously, if she were running for President of the United States? Would they vehemently support her? Would they insist that she will make America great again, spur the economy and bring jobs back onshore? Sure, I oversimplified matters with my very basic comparisons between Trump and Kardashian. But, would what many Trump supporters tout as his greatest asset - his business savvy - be good enough for her, too? Or, is it really that Trump is doing and saying some of the most egregious and irresponsible things in an effort to empower his base - a base that is "angry". A base that has been relegated to expressing rage with their keyboard courage in comments sections. Are Trump supporters actually intrigued by his business savvy? Or, is it that they have waited and wanted someone to finally give them permission to express their ugly, intolerable and offensive thoughts and actions in a public forum?