Trump & the Game of Thirds

Setting up a new camera brought to mind thirds as in the “Rule of Thirds.” Composing a shot, one might think the subject  should be centered, but this is wrong. The idea of the “Rule of Thirds” according to Google “ means that the subject isn’t centered in the image, which is how many new photographers frame their shots. Instead, the main focal point is a bit off to one side. … Using the rule of thirds draws the viewer’s eye into the composition, instead of just glancing at the center.” Painters also have long used this rule.  Take a look at Winslow Homer’s 1889 painting “Deer in the Adirondacks”


No question the deer is the focal point but the other elements make the painting interesting but secondary.. How many moments passed before you noticed the dog?

The thought came to us that maybe Donald Trump is a master of thirds. When he’s seen against the background of opponents  he stands out in relation to them. When he is viewed centered in isolation he can seem diminished with all his flaws evident. By sparring with the press, political antagonists or anyone else in his way, he can stand out against the  background they provide. In the “Access Hollywood Incident’ he was alone front and center and made smaller. On the other hand, sharing the scene with his opponents on a debate stage allowed him with  his celebrity to make himself strand out from the duller crowd. He knows how to position himself to be the focus while making the whole thing interesting, hence, the constant personal conflicts. He needs them to complete the scene.

This just might explain his lack of interest in moving to the center. If he can maintain the personal loyalty a third of the electorate as his base, all his detractors provide is a setting. Do any of his opponents present or prospective have this kind of personal following? While close to two out the three think he’s doing a bad job, it doesn’t mean they found a single person they absolutely believe will do a better job. Trump can only expand from his base as his antagonists diminish each other.  This was exactly how he did it in 2016. The same may prevail again in 2020. He starts with better than a third and not one of the known possible contenders comes close to this kind of loyal following. Further, he has the advantage of his third being spread more evenly across the states, while his opposition are concentrated in fewer states.

Of the known possible 2020 Trump opponents,  only Bernie Sanders showed he had a truly devoted personal following and even that proved to be less than half of the Democrats. Does anyone think this old socialist can command a solid third of the total electorate let alone more? Others in both parties just don’t inspire that kink of loyalty in big numbers. Hillary never connected with voters in a personal way and Republicans such as Kasich or Rubio showed their lack of a real national following. Kasich won only his home state and Rubio couldn’t even accomplish that. Trump absconded with Cruz’s base and Ted’s weird convention non-endorsement followed, when really pressured, by his effusive Trump endorsement leaves little reason he can regain any footing. On the Democratic side, Bernie and Elizabeth Warren have loyal followings but they’re smaller than Trumps with little proven upside room. Can you name any other democrat? The party itself  offers little support as evidenced by it controlling virtually nothing of importance. The public largely aren’t buying what it’s selling. More likely it will provide an additional drag on any ticket.

If a Trump re-election is ever to derailed, somebody or something new has to appear on the scene.  The Republicans might be the place to look. In reality, there are now three parties, Democrats, Trump and Republicans.  But isn’t Trump a Republican President you might ask? Not really.  Trump is his own party.  It’s just that he rolled the Republicans. The question is still the same as when we looked into the future in THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME. where do the Republicans go from here? This is a question to be asked of the Republican National Committee members. Either a majority of members are Republicans in the traditional sense or the party belongs to Trump. A vote to determine this, probably on retaining the present pro-trump chairman, must come soon.  If the non-Trumpies lose, at least they’ll know where they stand and set their own new course. But if they win, they could do what we said in A Tale of Two CEOs: Stumpf & Priebus  the National Committee should’ve done in 2016. Make it a rule that any Republican seeking the Presidential Nomination must disclose 10 years of tax returns or their name can’t appear on ballots or placed in nomination. For whatever reason Trump just won’t give us those returns. This Achilles Heel will provide an opening for someone else, while  leaving  Trump with nothing but bad choices. Holding the Republicans hostage leaves him with only a race with the weak Democrats. Without this advantage, the landscape would be changed.

Even if there is a three-way race, Trump still has his motivated and loyal third. Somebody still has to challenge and beat him. It probably won’t be the Democrats.  No salesperson makes sales by looking down on their prospects. You have confederate ancestors, you come from a long line of racists. You’re of Italian heritage you forgot the horrors of Columbus. If you’re in, have relatives or friends in law enforcement, you’re for oppression.  Forget the risks they  take for our safety. Uncle Joe the specialty cake baker is sued by gays for not providing for religious reasons a specialty cake for their nuptials and you think that is cruel unfair retribution . The Democrats don’t want to hear it.  In Hillary Clinton’s words “you’re deplorable” and she was the moderate Democrat. We must realize Trump’s support is far more cultural than policy driven.  If Democrats would ever have an actual conversation with his supporters ‘they’ll find it is more “you don’t like or respect me and you want my vote?”  On conservative talk radio you hear “condescension” or its synonyms over and over in reference to politicians, media and celebrities. One way to beat Trump is to peel off some of his followers and reduce his third to say a quarter or less, but Democrats totally reject this route  The Democrat’s plan for a come back remains a mystery.  Maybe the foul-mouthed weird-looking guy who heads their party could explain it.  Just make sure your children are out of earshot.

Strangely, that leaves it up to the Republicans.  Maybe they can come up with a candidate that can hit Trump where he is weakest and reduce his third.  My money is on Nikki Haley. The present UN Ambassador and former governor of South Carolina is in our mind the picture  of a calm measured but forceful competent leader. Equally important it’s hard other than maybe some ant-Asian bigots to find anyone having anything to say bad about her. A solid record as governor highlighted by her deft and compassionate handling of the Charleston Church massacre coupled with her present place on the world stage gives her standing Trump doesn’t and may never have. An admirable likeable competent Lady is a great contrast to Trump. As some have already found out, trying to out Trump just doesn’t work, it’s better to be a sharp contrast while supporting those who rightly feel dissed.  Can you think of anyone in either party that matches Haley on these crucial aspects?

We’ll know where this is going if after at least a year as UN Ambassador, Haley suddenly has a strong moral or policy difference with Trump and resigns. She’ll stay at least a year to pad the resume while retaining visibility. After that the war could be on.  Why Trump put a lukewarm at best supporter in such a prime position we’ll never know, but he actually hired  someone who could drain support from both himself, independents and  Democrats. . That alone is a leg up on the competition.

Of course Trump himself  could foolishly sever his ties to his third.  As we’ve pointed out he has supported Schumer and Pelosi in his Democratic past and is probably more comfortable with them than McConnell and Ryan.  Moving to their positions on immigration taxes and healthcare could cause a revolt in his base.  Of course without his third, this would leave him without any political power or place. Few leaders willingly commit political suicide, but after all Trump did appoint Nikki Haley.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s