Analysis & Opinions - Financial Times

Donald Trump masters the art of the unexpected

| Jan. 17, 2017

To understand the president-elect, view him as an independent not a Republican

As Donald Trump’s inauguration approaches, people around the world are struggling to understand the inhabitants of the newest Trump Tower, the one at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC. 

To comprehend the novel scene, they should view Mr. Trump as an independent, not as a Republican. Other celebrity billionaires have tried to compete with America’s political party duopoly; Mr Trump succeeded by taking over the Republican nomination. As an independent, he is not bound by party ideologies or past positions. He has nominated a number of Democrats and cross-party financial contributors to top posts. His leadership will depend on preserving the bond, by tweet and in person, with his army of supporters.

Such a style fits the image of Mr. Trump the dealmaker, who is always negotiating — staking out audacious positions, adjusting and even disclaiming as necessary, intuiting and feeling for advantage, and then trumpeting any result as a win. His bargaining includes use of social media, insults, threats and disruptive behaviour to set the stage. This conduct may seem shocking to foreigners who have relied on US pronouncements as (usually) sources of clear direction. The here and now will override strategy.

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For Academic Citation: Zoellick, Robert.“Donald Trump masters the art of the unexpected.” Financial Times, January 17, 2017.