As Ronald Reagan said; America is too great for small dreams
New Year, same America. With a government shutdown, gridlocked negotiations and a focus on Trump’s Wall dominating the news media, some may say not much has changed. However, it prompted us to ask why Trump is pushing this hard for this policy. Is it to defend the country against immigration, or is it really due to its importance to the Comms strategy of ‘Brand Trump’?
The image a Wall evokes is of strength, stability and protection – all things populists thrive off. Furthermore, the purpose of a wall is to separate one thing from another. This naturally creates a feeling of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ – why else would they need to be on the other side of the wall. Trump harnesses this feeling to create a paranoia of what ‘they’ may do without a wall, which creates a state of nation-wide worry. The Wall therefore does two jobs in one for Trump – establishing that there is a ‘them’ to be afraid of, and also nominating himself as the strong protector.
Furthermore, the Wall has become a mnemonic for right-wing voters to rally around. The US is getting increasingly divided, and increasingly complicated. Wendy Brown, a political theorist, points out that “a ‘big, beautiful wall’ projects a different and simpler story” to the massed population than the intricate realities of modern day foreign policy. This is in marked contrast to his opponent Hillary Clinton’s nine-point immigration policy, which included proposals like ‘supporting immigration integration’.
Integrating the Wall into his brand also allowed Trump to beat the much lauded Democrat political advertising machine. Obama’s 2008 campaign won many marketing awards primarily through its use of social media, and they reused the same tactic in 2012. However, Trump took on social segmentation with a brazen organic strategy – his tweeting. By talking directly to his followers in simple, evocative language, Trump was able to dominate the conversation, and bypass the traditional news media.
By using evocative symbols like the Wall, he is able to condense thoughts, ideas and slogans into easily understandable and communicable soundbites that create an appearance of legitimacy and honesty that everyone sees. By combining that with similar social media tactics, and alleged abuses of fake news, he was able to one-up Clinton, who focused more of her attention on traditional Television advertising.
The Curious programme is made up of a combination of always-on content curation (blogs/article and a bi-weekly digest) alongside dedicated 'seasons', in which we host a series of deep-dive talks on a given theme or topic.