Love him or hate him, few would disagree that Donald Trump is a master storyteller. Politics aside, Trump was the true underdog both within and outside of his own party.
Obama and many others skewered him in public. The media would often sway between sensationalism to downright skepticism in their reporting of all things Trump. Yet what the skeptics didn’t know or understand was that Trump was playing right into the hands of the American electorate.
People love the underdog story. Most can identify with what it’s like to be the outsider. It seemed that no matter what Trump said or did, he couldn’t lose. And people want to support a winner.
Perhaps even Trump himself was surprised that he was able to win over America to claim the highest office in the land. The fact is that Donald Trump is a genius at getting inside the zeitgeist of a population and in reading what it is exactly that people want. And it was time for change. Fed up with the status quo and their place in life, Trump gave his supporters what they wanted to hear. Like Superman rushing to save the screaming masses from a burning building, he was their hero and promised to fix things if they gave him a chance.
Many underestimated Trump. What his opponents and skeptics did was fail to see that through his storytelling and ability to read the current narrative playing out in America, he was able to tap into something so deep that no one else was able to reach it.
While there were many reasons that led to Trump’s victory, from a story perspective he hit all the right buttons.
Here’s what Trump did right:
- He tapped into people’s emotions and took them on an emotional journey. Great stories are built on great characters and he was able to create a persona for himself that instinctively drew people to his rallies by the tens of thousands
- He focused on what was really going on with the American people in a way that more seasoned politicians just failed to see. He read the narrative and followed the script. America was fed up and wanted to be great again. Trump offered a way out and his unconventional personality was able to draw people to his ideas
- His journey had many similarities to those experienced by heroes in the classic book by Christopher Vogler “The Writer’s Journey.” It’s almost as if Trump’s actions followed those in a dramatic movie script. There was a Call to Action, which led to the Hero’s Journey. Along the way, there were antagonists (or one key one – Hillary Clinton), tests, allies and enemies. After numerous challenges the hero crosses the threshold and returns with the ultimate prize – the White House
To quote Campbell, “Every storyteller bends the mythic pattern to his own purpose or the needs of her culture. That’s why the hero has a thousand faces.”
Great stories are mythic in nature and speak directly to the human spirit.They tap into a mythological core that teaches us something about ourselves.
From a storytelling perspective, Trump nailed it on all levels. Add to that his brand of authenticity yet unseen in the world of Washington politics and he proved to be a worthy opponent.
For Donald Trump, his final act is yet to be written. In the meantime, there will be more tests, allies and enemies along the way as he leaves the ordinary world and prepares to enter the brand new world of politics.