October 28, 2017

How Trump Used the ‘Art of War’ to Win the 2016 Election

While StoneMoss Group Geopolitical does not endorse any politicians, we thought it could be beneficial to break down how in the 2016 Presidential Elections, Donald Trump was a master tactician in his use of ‘The Art of War’ to win.


CHAPTER I: Detail Assessment and Planning

“All warfare is based on deception. Pretend inferiority and encourage your enemy’s arrogance. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush them”

Trump’s first campaign speech purposefully called out Mexicans as criminals, drug dealers, and rapists. This lead him to being mocked by the GOP as a “joke candidate”. Trump baited his opponents by doubling down and making Trump’s wall the number one issue of the primary election. His stance on illegal immigration forced all other GOP candidates to start one step back, and for Trump to set the pace moving forward.

Trump continued to hold out baits throughout his campaign (Mexico will pay for the wall, will he/won’t he run independent, blood coming out of “wherever”, barring Muslims, Hillary’s email servers, and “Islam hates us”) to feign disorder. He then doubled down every time, saying things like “No border, no country”, “The wall will be 10 feet higher”, or “letting in Muslims brings in terrorists”.


CHAPTER II: Waging War

“What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.

Where the army is, prices are high; when the prices rise the wealth of the people is exhausted”

Notice how fast each of Trump’s “wacko” statements were superseded by another? That’s because each time Trump was attacked, his core voters felt attacked. The more his opponents attacked him, the more flabergasted they became in seeing nothing stick. Trump wanted to be attacked because he already set his opponents up in a position of weakness right out of the opening gate. His opponents were just playing catch-up, which continually put them further behind and perceived as “low energy”.


CHAPTER III: Strategic Attack

“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.

What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.”

Trump knows who he is, and of the people who ran against him, none of them know Trump. You can see it in what they said about Trump. They likened him to being mentally unstable, a bigot, a racist, a buffoon, or even Hitler. Trump was none of those, and to say he is demonstrated how they’ve already lost. His opponents never took Trump seriously. Even today Ted Cruz says that Trump’s voters were “uninformed”. Mitt Romney called Trump’s supporters “played for suckers”. No one has yet to figure Trump out, not because he’s too crazy, but because he’s too clever. You can’t just laugh him off.


CHAPTER IV: Disposition of the Army

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

Trump has been planning this since at least the late 1980s. All he had to do was bide his time and wait for the right political climate. Not even the political party he ran for mattered, that’s why he’s running as a Republican since it’s the easiest path to victory. He has no allegiance to either party, which only serves to benefit his message.



 “The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.”

Trump’s greatest strength was in dismantling his opponents. Jeb Bush’s fall from grace was a master stroke by Trump. While Bernie is still fighting, Trump had long since dismantled his primary rival through a continuous barrage of perfect pin prick attacks. You may have missed it, but it was one of the greatest American political maneuverings of all-time.


CHAPTER VI: Weaknesses and Strengths

“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness.

All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.

The ultimate in disposing one’s troops is to be without ascertainable shape. Then the most penetrating spies cannot pry in nor can the wise lay plans against you.”

Trump was no fool. Everyone said “Trump has no plans, no platform”, but everything he had said has been by design. Everything from here on out will be by design. Hillary said: “If I’m running against Trump there’s plenty of time to come up with a plan before the general election”. You cannot plan against Trump. Neither Hillary nor Bernie had a plan. There is no political strategy to beat him. Trump became President, because he already had a 30 year head start. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Needless to say, Hillary had no plan against Trump. She used the same attacks against Trump that his Republican rivals did: he’s a bigot, a racist, etc etc. That didn’t work in the primaries and it didn’t work in the general election. There was no political strategy to beat Trump. He wasn’t playing by political rules, that’s the whole point. We did see two paths to beating him, and neither was about Hillary: The first strategy was Bernie winning the Democratic Primaries. He had the swag, the charisma, the cuddly Grandpa mentality. His appeal was the same as that of Biden: Go-lucky, real, passionate. Unfortunately he was running against the Clinton Machine/DNC and he got churned out quickly.

The second strategy was Bernie, again. He should have been the VP even though Hillary leans center way more than progressive. Her inability to negotiate was her undoing. It’s not just about the Bernie voters that refused to vote Hillary, it was about their enthusiasm. Like it or not, they were a ground-game unlike anything anyone’s ever seen. The ridiculous amount of donations, the millions of phone calls, the millions of doors knocked. Their passion was most needed against Trump. Yes, Bernie campaigned for Hillary during the general election, but it was no longer the same.

Bernie used to be their champion that could fight against the 1%, for $15 minimum wage, free healthcare, and free tuition. He couldn’t do that while campaigning for Hillary without being on the ballot because everyone knew she didn’t really care about any of that. So what was Hillary left with? No passion, no drive, no enthusiasm, no Bernie, no Presidency. She was too proud, and that is what Trump exposed to perfection. Yes, Trump was a master strategist, and he knew Hillary’s weakness was her stoic character.

During the campaign you often heard Hillary mention that the Republicans have been attacking her for 30 years and never found anything to hurt her. She wore that as a badge of honor, she thought that made her stronger. But, as Trump had done in the Republican Primaries, he took the quality his opponents covet most and he turned it on its head. Crooked Hillary. Hillary Rotten Clinton. Drain the Swamp. Lock her up. Much like Picasso’s abstract paintings, Trump’s brush strokes made little sense to most people. Yes, she’s a political power house, yes she’s a stalwart in her convictions. But that also makes her stiff in her beliefs. How can they maintain power with the elites unless their entire cesspool of a swamp was also polluted? Lock her up. Trump took her stoicism and grounded it into a pulp. His first attack on Hillary during the general election was that “If she wasn’t playing the woman card she wouldn’t even get 5% of the vote.” How did Hillary respond? “If fighting for women’s rights and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal. Me. IN!”

This played perfectly into Trump’s hand. He knew she’d be defiant in being a woman and take that attack personally. He used her soundbites to wedge a gap between men and women voters. The male vote wasn’t 2:1 for Trump because they were misogynists, it was because Hillary’s words excluded their existence.

Remember ‘The Art of War’? It’s all about divide and conquer. When did Hillary ever talk about men’s issues? Never. While Hillary thought she was being stoic in protecting the woman card, Trump was actually playing the man card. Regardless of how you feel about the election, it truly was a masterful performance by Donald Trump. One that will go down in history as not only the most shocking victory, but we would dare say the most expertly perfected victory in US political history.