Since he first descended his golden escalator in Trump Tower on June 16th, 2015 (a day that will live in infamy), people have been underestimating Donald Trump, much to their misfortune.
One by one he plowed through 16 other candidates for the Republican nomination and then went on to decimate an extremely well funded and well organized Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency, much to everyone’s amazement.
He turned out to be a master of the ‘new media’, using it to bypass newspapers and television, or using his outrageous statements to garner an estimated $2 billion worth of free press.
Now, the question for the Democratic Party (and many Republicans) is how to defeat him.
Needless to say, the Democrats will start scrambling for a white knight who can come to the rescue, or perhaps a Watergate-like, well researched scandal that will bring him down. Don’t count on it. The White Knight is not coming, and Trump has been instrumental in denigrating the veracity of any journalistic organization that opposes him. A few months of this and Breitbart and the New York Times will be seen as little different. Already, he has refused to take a question at his ‘press conference’ from CNN, whom he labels as purveyors of ‘fake news’.
No, the old solutions will not work on him.
But what will?
Did you ever see the movie The Imitation Game?
This is the one about Alan Turing, the British math genius who broke the Enigma Code to help win the Second World War.
There’s a great line in the movie that is also the solution to the Trump Enigma. Turing says, ‘it takes a machine to defeat a machine’.
The same holds true with Donald Trump. You aren’t going to beat him using conventional methods or conventional media. It won’t work. It won’t stick. But what can you do?
It takes a machine to defeat a machine. And in this case, the machine that Trump uses so well is social media. So it is with the focused use of social media, used in a way that it has never been used before, that the Trump machine can be defeated.
But what way?
Mainstream media is derivative of an old technology. It was once prohibitively expensive to publish a newspaper and even more expensive to produce and broadcast television news. The result is that mainstream media is composed of a very few people producing the ‘news’ or the ‘journalism’ and then distributing it.
Very few people. A tiny handful. A few thousand at best.
But social media is composed of millions of people. Hundreds of millions. More than a billion on Facebook. That’s a machine with unbelievable potential power that could be focused and fired up. No one has really done that yet.
It is fitting that 2017 is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther. He not only posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Cathedral at Wittenberg, he also used the newest media technology of his day, the printing press, to spread the word. His ideas, married to the printing press essentially brought down the Catholic Church and set off the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, a virtual unknown, harnessed the new technology and changed the rules of the game. In a way, he was the Donald Trump of his day.
Newspapers are the children of the printing press. Old tech. Only newspapers own printing presses. TV networks are like newspapers, old tech. But there are 223 million smart phones in the US, in the hands of 223 million people. That’s a lot more reporters than CNN has. It’s a massive, and largely untapped and unfocused power.
At the turn of the 19th Century, Napoleon was able to conquer most of Europe because he created a massive standing army from the peasantry. Before Napoleon, wars were fought by small, well trained and well paid ‘professional’ armies. Napoleon changed all that. He fielded a massive army.
We have a massive media army that has never been fielded. 223 million citizen ‘journalists’, armed with smart phones that can create text, photos, videos and live stream.
At his press conference, Donald Trump said ‘no one was interested in seeing his tax returns. No one except the media’. Now, maybe this is true, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe there are, oh, 60 million Americans or so who could demand to see his tax returns. But how would he know? If we continue to allow the media to be the interlocutors for the public, we won’t. But if the public does what Trump did – that is, use social media to bypass both the mainstream media and the political parties, and go direct to the public, well that would have an impact.
Donald Trump might be able to ignore a few editorials in the NY Times or the Washington Post, but it would be damned hard for him to ignore 60 million Tweets or Instagrams or FB posts or videos on Youtube. Particularly if those 60 million were done day after day, for a week or two. A kind of ‘people’s campaign for justice’.
During the Civil Rights Movement or the Anti Vietnam War Protests of the 60’s it was incredibly effective when people took to the streets to march. Now, people, millions of people, could take to the blogosphere to ‘march’ as well.
Donald Trump can be defeated. But he can only be defeated by using the very medium that he used to gain and hold power.
If you wait for The New York Times or the DNC, you will not win. But if you take to the field; if you fill the blogosphere with your outrage, your questions, your objections and you do it hour after hour, day after day, you can create a media tidal wave the likes of which the world has never seen.
You want to defeat Donald Trump? Create a Citizen’s Online Army. There are more than 65 million Americans who voted against Donald Trump. Imagine if 65 million people flooded the blogosphere with their questions and objections every day. Think of it as a ‘denial of service’, but with a purpose. You can stop him. You can beat him. We have the technology.
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