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Why Trump Is Winning

In this crazy, unpredictable, perplexing election year, we’re seeing candidates who are redefining what it means to be a politician. Or not.

Consider the candidacy of Donald Trump, who is frustrating the living daylights out of the Republican establishment. You could say Bernie Sanders is having the same effect on the Democratic party, but he is a long shot, while Trump seems to have a chance of being his party’s presidential candidate.

Whether you are horrified or intrigued by that prospect, my purpose here is to neither endorse nor denigrate Trump, but to offer one very simple explanation for why one of the most polarizing figures in modern political history is winning. In fact, it has to do with why.

Trump is very clear about why he is running, and I’ll bet you know “why.” That’s right. He’s running to make America great again.

I’ve been doing a little experiment with the slogans (or tag lines) of the seven remaining presidential candidates (two Democratic, five Republican). I went to the websites of each candidate and noted the slogan of each one. Here they are:


Are you ready for a new American century?

A positive vision for America                                                                                                         

Today’s the day                                                                                                                             

Make America great again                                                                                                            

Join the movement of courageous conservatives                                                                         

Heal, inspire, revive                                                                                                                       

A future to believe in

I’ve shown this list to a couple dozen friends and asked them to tell me which slogan goes with which candidate. No one has failed to identify Trump’s slogan. In fact, every person I’ve talked with knew Trump’s slogan without looking at the list.

By contrast, no one has come close to matching the other slogans to the other candidates. As far as my friends are concerned, all the slogans except for Trump’s more or less sound the same. When I ask which one is most inspiring, without exception they say, “Make America great again.”

Why is this the case? It’s because Trump is the only candidate who is very clear about why he is running. And that makes all the difference.

This business of “why” is not my idea. I got it from Simon Sinek, the author of the bestselling book, Start With Why. It’s one of the best books on leadership I have ever read. If Trump hasn’t read it, I would be surprised, because Trump gets it.

Sinek makes this very simple statement about why “why” is so crucial for any leader—whether they are running for president or running a company:
People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

This principle applies to products, ideas, and movements. Steve Jobs built Apple because people bought his vision to make computers simple to use. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired people because they knew why he devoted his life to equality for all people.

Trump’s WHY is clear, simple, and inspiring. It’s brilliant. Put it next to a WHAT statement like, “A positive vision for America,” and you immediately know which one makes you yawn and which one makes you say, “I get that.”

There’s still a long way to go before we know the final candidates. Almost anything can happen. But right now, we know this much. Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore Trump’s WHY. Neither can the other candidates, who would be well advised to tell us why they are running.
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Stan's entire life has been wrapped in content: selling, writing and publishing books and resources that help ordinary people capture a glimpse of extraordinary things.