Can the politics of negative be turned into the politics of positive with Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for President? At best, only with a superficial response. Trump has achieved what I predicted last summer. He out boxed all the other contenders running for the office and fought his way to the top using some of the most negative and repulsive words, phrases and language ever heard from politicians. Trump has effectively manipulated the negative, seamlessly creating an explosive platform of its own.
We've learned a lot about negative rhetoric these past ten months, in part because we've heard so much of it. For some of us, it's a giant turn off. For others, it seems to be a giant turn on that unleashes pent up ... well a lot of things.
What Trump has done and continues to masterfully do is, in part, counterintuitve to what is effective political and business communication. In a normal situation, If your goal is to consistently project the positive, "Don't repeat a negative" is strongly advised. And with good reason. If a negative word or statement slips into what's supposed to be a positive message, you can get away with it once. Maybe. If you repeat the negative a second time, it remains in people's minds. If you repeat that negative thought or phrase a third time, it's pretty much in our minds for good.
Trump is flipping the tables by using negative thoughts to produce positive results. He must have well studied a phenomenon called the Illusion of Truth Effect identified by researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara. They proved that any statement we speak, see, hear or read regularly is viewed as more valid than one we’re only exposed to occasionally. It makes no difference whether the information is true or false. The only thing that matters is how often we’re exposed to it.
If you underscore the exposure of Trump's negative messages, supported by all forms of media and repeated ad nauseam on his favorite Twitter, we can better understand what has brought his campaign to where it is today. And if we pile on those large rallies where he's the only one on stage throwing his body language into every word and surrounded by thousands of cheering fans ... you have a spectacle that for some will be hard to forget. Especially if you're continually reminded of it.
The saddest part of Trump's negative style of running for President of the United States is that it deprives us of all the good that comes with the strength of positive.
His mantra has been "win at any cost". And it has cost.