A new leadership strategy is afflicting politics – and the church
In 2012 the Republican Party nominated the ideal candidate. A handsome, devout father of five sons, Mitt Romney was a successful businessman and an experienced governor with a proven appeal to moderate voters. Although he didn’t excite the conservative base of his party, Romney’s centrism seemed to make him the ideal candidate to topple President Obama.
For months Romney ran a nearly flawless campaign. But then a video leaked in which he appeared to dismiss 47 percent of Americans as “takers.” The media fixated on this gaffe and repeated it endlessly. Democrats used the clip to reinforce the narrative that Romney was a spoiled rich guy out of touch with working Americans.
One tiny mistake cost Romney the election.
Donald Trump was watching. And learning.
Trump is deploying a strategy that’s new to American politics – but common in many “prosperity gospel” churches. I call it: All Crazy – All the Time. Instead of trying to run a clean campaign and avoid mistakes, you intentionally sow crazy seeds all the time, in order to keep your opponents focused on multiple targets.
Picture a fighter jet streaking across the sky. A heat-seeking missile approaches from behind – locked on the jet’s tail. The pilot releases a series of hot flares – decoys that confuse the missile by presenting it with numerous flaming targets. The missile ends up striking a flare. The jet flies on.
Trump has played the flare game to perfection. Practically every day he commits a gaffe that’s much worse than Romney’s 47 percent remark. Just yesterday he reached a new low, re-tweeting an image of his supermodel spouse next to an unflattering image of his main opponent’s wife.
The image is so childish one can hardly believe a Presidential front-runner would endorse it. But this is all part of Trump’s strategy.
This is how Trump survives: his opponents aren’t able to coalesce around a single killer narrative about him because he provides them with too many available targets. They can’t hit the jet because he’s releasing too many flares.You saw this during the Republican debates. Marco Rubio mocked him for inheriting his fortune from his daddy. Ted Cruz attacked his support for Planned Parenthood. Jeb Bush jabbed him for his donations to Hillary Clinton. Ben Carson criticized him for bragging about his infidelities. And so on.
The media dutifully reported how everyone attacked Trump. They detailed Trump’s inaccurate statements. They replayed Trump’s bombastic statements. But there was no single story to dominate the news cycle. Trump. Trump. Trump. By being consistently crazy The Donald has reaped more than $2 billion in free media time.
Now, what about those prosperity preachers? They’ve been playing “All Crazy – All The Time” for years. In some congregations it’s an open secret that these “men of God” are involved in extramarital affairs, secret homosexual relationships, shady business deals, and even organized crime. The private jets, $5000 suits and lavish homes present the media (and their parishioners) with multiple hot targets – distracting them from the leader’s deep depravity.
Trump deflects criticism by belittling his opponents (and Megyn Kelly), whereas prosperity preachers deflect criticism by blaming it on “satanic opposition.”
Will Trump’s strategy take him all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? It’s doubtful. Polls consistently show him losing big to Hillary Clinton. If Trump is nominated, he’ll be the most negatively viewed presidential candidate ever. Trump appeals to the same demographic groups the prosperity preachers do. And both receive the lion’s share of their support from men.
Why do we put up with Trump? The same reason we blindly support shady preachers. We want a king.