This is Part II of my analysis of the 2016 Presidential Election through the lens of the Principles of War: (Definitions of each Principle)
- Maneuver: The most prominent tactic in the Trump Campaign was his use of massive rallies. Trump crisscrossed the country hitting battle ground state after battle ground state, attending multiple rallies a day, often 7 days a week. He out maneuvered Hillary Clinton’s lack luster campaign, as she often took numerous days off, and let others campaign for her. Not only did Trump out maneuver Hillary in campaign appearances, he did so on social media, to dramatic effect as well. Trump often appeared on Fox News at night, constantly hammering his message. David Brock himself criticized her campaign by stating
“the fact that the campaign had no discernable online strategy.”
Donald Trump’s best use of maneuver was his wildly successful strategy to open up new, once solidly blue, battleground states. Trump was roundly criticized by beltway pundits for wasting his time, money, and energy in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Its clear now that the waste was in the out maneuvered Hillary Campaign.
- Unity of Command: Donald Trump was clearly in charge of his campaign. If anything, there was constant critique that he didn’t listen to his advisors enough. There were even inaccurate reports that they took his Twitter account away, which would have hampered some other of the other Principles, which relied upon social media. That Unity of Command extended through his campaign advisors, staff and family. Trump exercised that Unity when he replaced Corey Lewandowski, his campaign manager, on 20 Jul despite Corey’s wildly successful performance during the Republican nomination process.
President Obama and numerous other surrogates heavily bolstered Hillary’s campaign by covering for her small and lackluster campaign events. She was missing from the campaign trail for days at a time, and despite her initial boast that as a woman she was best qualified to be president, she called for help from men as it appeared that she was unable to hold her own. Additionally, Hillary practically outsourced her campaign to the “Minion Media”, relying on them for fawning coverage and leaked debate questions.
Centralized control and decentralized execution are central components of Unity of Command. Trump’s campaign, unlike Romney’s for instance, succeeded because it was decentralized in execution, adaptive and flexible as a result since it relied on local volunteers.
- Security: Trump frequently spoke during the campaign about the stupidity of broadcasting America’s plans to our enemies, like ISIS, before acting. He understands the importance of Security in running a successful business, and instinctively understands it’s critical to national security. Trump’s campaign never broke this Principle.
The greatest impact of the Principle of Security was Hillary’s gross violation of it. First, Hillary’s violated Security when she exposed National Secrets through her home- brew email server, which haunted her campaign throughout the election. Second, Julian Assange and Wikileaks provided another massive violation of campaign security. Assange released over 50,000 emails from Hillary’s Campaign Manager, John Podesta, and exposed the inner most workings of Hillary’s Campaign and how they colluded with the Minion Media. We will never know exactly how damaging these two breaches of Security were, but they most certainly didn’t help her.
- Surprise: No Principal of War epitomizes the 2016 election more than the Principle of Surprise. To believe the Minion Media, even Trump himself was surprised that he won, which is ridiculous. Certainly the RCP averages did not predict his win, but there was plenty of evidence that Hillary was in a fight from polling to energy among Trump’s supporters. Political races are known for October Surprises, and Hillary’s was the Billy Bush tape. The Trump Campaign’s surprise was succeeding in his campaign strategy, to turn solid blue states red. He did so in WI, MI, and PN, and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District despite the wizards of smart and Hillary’s Campaign saying that it was folly. According to Hunter Lewis, one of the campaign’s most brilliant examples of surprise, and this could fall under the Principle of Maneuver and Offensive as well, was Trump’s press conference just prior to the second presidential debate.
“With virtually no time either to think or act, the Trump campaign managed to organize a press conference before the debate featuring accusers of Bill Clinton. It got the mainstream media to cover it by heralding it as Trump’s reply to the tape, with no mention of the women invited to join him. Once the cameras were already on, and the women filed in, it was too late for the networks to turn them off.”
Trump’s Campaign effectively used “Surprise”, but the effect was amplified because of Hillary’s Campaign the Democrat Party’s hubris.