“What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? … Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story.” — Tyrion Lannister

How To Beat Trump

A political campaign is a competition of narratives, and you need a better story than the other guy to win.

Trump understood that if you want to change what someone does, you need to change what they feel, and not just what they think.

“What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? … Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it.” — Tyrion Lannister

What the Democrats need to win is a candidate who can formulate, road-harden, and authentically deliver a simple, dramatic story that re-frames the negative emotions we’re all feeling into a passionate narrative that points the way toward a brighter tomorrow.

Thank you for coming today.

America is a special place. Seeing that led me to service as a younger man, and that service helped me understand just what it is that makes America special.

Unlike every nation before it, America is built on ideas. Our borders were not shaped by the territories of feudal lords, or by the ancient boundaries of one ethnicity to another. We are not united by blood, or by soil, or even by belief in the precise nature and specific practice of the God we choose to worship.

America was born in the Age of Enlightenment, created by men who believed in revolutionary ideas: That we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That we have rights to freedom of speech, and of the press; to bear arms, to due process, and to impartial justice. We have the right to a say in our own governance, and to assemble together in the pursuit of that say, as we have today.

Foremost among the ideas that created America is that “all men are created equal.” All men are created equal. Now, this was an idea so BIG, it’s taken us a few hundred years to figure out what it meant. And even today, we struggle to live up to its standard.

“All” was the first problem. “All” meant white when it was first written, and it took 620,000 American dead and decades of sometimes nonviolent and sometimes violent struggle to make “All” mean all. Next up was “Men.” In the memory of living Americans is an America where “Men” meant males. Decades of work and sacrifice helped us see that “Men” had to mean mankind for us to fulfill our promise as a nation. The remarkable people of color and extraordinary women I’ve served with are testament to our progress on the still expanding frontier of inclusion in the American idea.

Which brings us to “Created Equal.”

Created Equal. Think for a moment how revolutionary that idea was when they first wrote it down. Literally. The subjects of a far-off monarch, with the courage and the conviction to declare the lowliest among themselves born equal with the man able to dispatch the most powerful army and navy on Earth against them at the stroke a pen.

Created Equal was an idea that cast off the legacy of European patriarchy. It said no man — no person — shall be held above others according to the circumstances of their birth; by virtue of their family name, or their ancestral blood. Created Equal recognized the intrinsic value of every human life. It was a call to basic fairness at the birth of a new nation; a nation where anyone willing to accept the responsibilities of citizenship could access its full privileges; where anyone willing to work hard to better the circumstances of their family could achieve that success over time.

Created Equal, my friends, is where America has lost its way. Our nation today is one where the circumstances of your birth too often dictate the opportunities of your lifetime. At both the top and the bottom of the economic ladder, the social mobility at the heart of the American dream now lags behind that of nations who once embraced our example. For too many in this country, the “American dream” is exactly that… a dream, a mirage at the same distance no matter how hard they run toward it. For others, the opposite is true. Born to wealth and raised in gated communities, with private transportation to private schools, the top rung of the American ladder has never offered more secure footing to the children of privilege.

The fact is that in America today, we are not Created Equal.

So… what do we do? Well, for decades now, we have been told the best solution to the problem is growth… specifically the growth enabled by free trade among nations. Now I know globalism has fallen out of favor, but I truly fear we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater, simply for the lack of courage to face the truth.

And the truth is this…. By the admission of even its most ardent detractors, the global regime of free market capitalism enabled by the generosity and leadership of the United States after World War II changed the world for the better… especially for those at the bottom of poor countries, and — it turns out — at the top of rich ones. Even as more billionaires have been created, though, billions of people have been lifted from poverty since the middle of the 20th century. If our progress as a species is measured not in the concentration of wealth, but in the reduction of human suffering, we now live in what can only be called a golden age of mankind.

The real problem is that we have failed to distribute the fruits of free trade fairly right here in America, where its benefits have been hoarded by a few at the top, and its costs have been borne almost entirely by the middle-class American worker.

Uncontrolled free trade has caused hardship for hard-working Americans, particularly across the heartland of our nation. But the solution to this problem, my friends, is not a war on free trade. It is the pursuit of a new model of fair trade that explicitly dedicates a more meaningful share of the benefits of global commerce to the infrastructure of social mobility, right here at home.

We need a new approach to trade that delivers fewer private jets, and more public good.

We need a new covenant to channel more of our successes in the global marketplace into investments in the early education we know works to create new possibilities for American children… especially those stranded at the bottom of our socioeconomic ladder. We need to make our best universities accessible to our best students, based not on who their parents are, but on what their potential is. And — just as important — we need to elevate our skilled trade schools and junior colleges, to power the growth of small business that is the bedrock of local economies, right here at home, extending the quiet dignity of a day’s work well done to more of the Americans willing to earn it.

We need to expand the reach of affordable broadband Internet further into the countryside that is America’s heartland. We need to improve public transportation into the cities that are the engines of our forward progress. And we need to modernize both our industrial age electrical grid, and the infrastructure of roads, bridges, and public works that connect us all, in a system we have neglected for far too long.

Finally, we need a new spirit of national service in this country, a shared experience to draw each of us out of our micro-targeted fake news bunkers, and into common contact with those with whom have common cause in the real world. For a generation the military served this function, bringing Americans from every corner of this country together in service not just to a nation, but to the ideas that nation represents. In the military — as in other forms of national service from AmeriCorps to SeniorCorps to Teach for America — it doesn’t matter where you come from, or who your daddy is, or what color you are, or who you worship, or who you love. What matters is the mission, and what comes from serving that mission together is not just a better understanding of what makes America special, but a better understanding of each other, and — if you’re as lucky as I’ve been — the bonds of friendship and love that will last a lifetime.

These are my priorities… that we re-tool to restore the American dream for the 21st century, through targeted investments in Education, Transportation, and Cooperation. I’m running a campaign focused on these three things, a campaign focused on restoring access to the American dream, and meaning to the uniquely American idea that we are all created equal.

Join me, and together, we will do just that.

Just make sure it fits on a hat.



Storyteller. Consiglieri. Lyrical gangsta. Partner, G20 Ventures, thoughts here are my own. https://nf.td/miketrap

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Mike Troiano

Storyteller. Consiglieri. Lyrical gangsta. Partner, G20 Ventures, thoughts here are my own. https://nf.td/miketrap