Against all prognostications, Donald Trump continues to sweep though the U.S. Republican primaries like a tsunami.
With his latest victory in Indiana and Cruz’s exit from the race, he’s now on the verge of obtaining enough delegates to secure the nomination automatically.
Yet Trump was far from being the frontrunner when he launched his presidential bid. In fact, the powerful U.S. establishment (including his own Republican Party) didn’t even take him seriously. Many well-informed and well-connected people wrote him off as a media clown and predicted that his candidacy would deflate like a post-birthday balloon.
But those people failed to grasp the extent to which today’s world has changed and how important transparency, speed and participation in the global conversation have become.
Trump is not just a businessman; he’s also a figure from the new era of entertainment who, more than any other candidate understands what his audience is looking for and how to deliver it – in real time.
But a key vein that Trump has tapped into is the American electorate’s need for transparency.
After many years in which politicians never deviated from their pre-approved and politically correct scripts, Trump takes the stage and begins giving voice to anything that goes through his head. He calls for Obama to get tough on China, attacks Muslims, insults women, basically gets into it with everyone. Trump is a machine for saying anything and everything – albeit without presenting specific proposals, because he doesn’t have any.
And of course the U.S. media rushes to predict his imminent demise every time “The Donald” says something outrageous on television or Twitter, only to watch in amazement as he rises even further in the polls.
This is because Trump, despite offending virtually everyone, has shown himself to be authentic. That quality, combined with his extraordinary, real-time use of social media (he has 7.8 million Twitter followers and has sent 31,800 tweets) has made him an unstoppable force.
Strangely enough, opening up and showing who he really is has not made Trump more vulnerable, as occurred in the past with overly forthright candidates, but has only strengthened him. His transparency has been his shield. There’s a reason why some pundits have called him the “Teflon man”: nothing sticks.
Can Trump win the general elections? It’s still too early to say, but clearly the real-estate magnate has rewritten the rules on how candidates communicate in a presidential campaign.
His experience transcends politics. In today’s interconnected world, the need for transparency, participation and speed also applies to organizations and individuals. The Trump phenomenon tells us that people don’t want masks. They reject the type of communications whose goal is to cover over imperfections and present an idealized and polished image.
Today, people want transparency, even if that’s accompanied by a funny hairdo and a barrage of insults.
Sergio Roitberg is the founder and CEO of Newlink, a leading consulting firm across key communication disciplines that is headquartered in the United States with offices in eight Latin American countries.