Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter
By Scott Adams
Published by Penguin Portfolio, £13.99
(Buy at Amazon)
Donald Trump’s first year in office has certainly been chaotic, but this raises the question of how an apparent buffoon managed to win such as important election in the first place. Win Bigly, by blogger and cartoonist Scott Adams, argues that Trump’s success was due to his understanding that how you say things matters far more than what you say.
In particular, Trump used imagery, catchphrases and deliberate exaggeration to connect with voters on an emotional level that most politicians fail to reach, turning what would normally be seen as career-ending gaffes to his advantage.
For example, while pundits spent a lot of time attacking Trump’s idea for a wall along the Mexican border, this promise was effective in turning the abstract and complex issue of immigration reform into something concrete.
Worse, by focusing on the details of his scheme, pundits ensured the wider issue remained top of the agenda, helping Trump. A more subtle example was the way in which he defused accusations of racism by making sure, during the last few weeks of the campaign, he was photographed kissing African-American babies.
Adams argues that anybody can become more persuasive by copying such methods. Even setting aside the question of whether one would want to do this, the book has flaws. There is a lot of repetition, and Adams is always keen to remind the reader that he was one of the few who consistently predicted Trump’s victory. Some of his other views, such as his idea that we may be living in a computer-generated reality, are more than a little eccentric.
However, he does a surprisingly good job of explaining his theories and he is not afraid to point out Trump’s mis-steps. The president’s many critics could certainly benefit from reading this contrarian take on what drove his rise to power.