The 2016 Presidential Election is full of surprises of which the Trump phenomenon is most exciting not only in its evolving process but also in its possible outcome in the end. This essay is written shortly before Trump had secured his Republican Nomination but is updated after he had secured the nomination. The analysis regarding the GOP’s gear switching from No Trump to Accepting Trump is still interesting. Using the terminology of Bridge Game to describe this change makes it easy to understand. Making a four-diamond bid is asking a five diamond response to make a game. Defining and constructing a collaborative and productive US-China relation is the Fifth Diamond that Trump would need to make a bridge game. I venture to say that the Republicans do have a chance to win the 2016 presidential election if Trump and GOP bid and play a ‘Five Diamond’ game.
The Trump phenomenon has been gaining more momentum after the GOP candidate won a sweeping victory on 4/26/2016 in five primaries of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. This impressive result on top of Trump’s overwhelming win in the states of Arizona and New York, Trump had gained 956 delegates of the1237 required to snatch the GOP nomination. The 956 number represents 48.5% of the 1970 total delegates counted up to the last primary contest. Subtracting 124 un-committed delegates from the total count of 1970, the 956 number represents 52% of the committed delegates who will vote for Trump at the GOP convention in Cleveland. Sure enough, Trump snatched the Republican Presidential Nomination on 7/21/2016.
In the 2016 presidential election, there had been over 17 significant Republican candidates starting the race. The GOP party establishment had its favorite and adopted a no Trump strategy - anybody but Trump strategy. Trump denounced this unfair play and his supporters grew as Trump began winning in the primary process. The GOP party seems to base the no Trump approach on the following three no trumps:
1. Trump is not an insider of the GOP organization
2. Trump has challenged the party establishment and its mechanism and
3. Trump comes from the New York State, a Democratic State having nearly zero chance to win for Republicans.
Therefore, the GOP elites stuck to the Three No Trump game plan. They pushed for Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and ignored Trump.
Reviewing the GOP primaries held, Trump not only has remained in the race, he is winning. Despite of the media’s (both left and right) bashing Trump’s manners and rough languages, Trump gained momentum and the number of his followers at his campaign rallies exploded. Senator Ted Cruz and Former Governor John Kasich joining hands as a last ditch effort to stop Trump failed in the 4/26/2016 primary contests. Yet Trump won and then declared himself a presumptive Presidential Nominee. The 4/26/16 GOP primary result may be a wake-up call to the GOP, even Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee is publicly stating that he is very pleased with Trump’s foreign policy speech, declaring it a broad vision with substance. This and other public comments in the GOP camp seem to suggest that the GOP is changing the three No Trump bid to a four diamond game.
What is the rational for changing to a four diamonds bid? The reasons may be summarized as follows:
Diamond 1. Trump is a billionaire but he is winning the support of the working class which can be very helpful in the general election. His supporters believe that he is telling the truth in contrast to his opponent Hillary.
Diamond 2. Trump is self-financing his presidential campaign which can save money for GOP to focus on contests for congressional seats. This is a great opportunity to rally both presidential and Congressional elections coherently.
Diamond 3. People’s ultimate concern is still on domestic issues with first priority on jobs and money in their pockets. He who can create jobs will be the winner.
Diamond 4. Trump’s business sense, negotiation skills and aggressive, conservative and bottom-line oriented problem solving approach are in line with GOP principles. Tough talk can be empty without real skills, Trump, making money through his business skills is favored over Hillary, making money by delivering speeches.
These four diamond points seem to win plenty of supporters, in the Republican Convention and post convention polls for Trump. But to win a game you need five diamonds; the fifth Diamond has to be clearly bid after the Republican convention has been concluded.
On the Democrat side, despite of Bernie Sanders’ courageous fight in the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton has sewn up the winning pouch. Bernie had drawn more support from young people with liberal appeal; thus Hillary has to figure out a way to court Bernie’s supporters and mindful not tilting too far left. It is for sure that Hillary’s opponent Trump will be coming from the right, after Republicans eventually rally behind him. At this point, Trump has created a momentum that is threatening Hillary’s ‘sure win status’ in the 2016 presidential race. Trump is fully aware of Hillary’s playing the gender or woman card and her wooing the minority voters with every special interest – an inclusive party claim. Trump on the other hand is riding on the momentum of defying the current and past administration’s blunders of which Hillary is a contributor and a not-trustworthy figure.
However, ‘Four Diamonds’ does not make a game in ‘bridge’; the U.S. 2016 presidential election is like building a bridge to a better future, whether it is for the U.S. to win again or for the U.S. to be great again. For Trump to win the general election beating Hillary, he must bid and play a ‘Five Diamonds’ game. The world has changed significantly in the past three decades since the Reagan era. The Cold War ended with the Soviet Union collapsed, but Russia is going through a rejuvenation fully taking advantage of the mess in the Middle East caused by the U.S. intervention. China has risen not only economically but diplomatically on the world stage. Other than Japan and the U.S., the developed countries, like U.K. Germany, France …, all adopted a realist foreign policy embracing China’s rise and her vision in global economic development – One Belt and One Road (OBOR). Why should the U.S. stick with an outdated or legacy China policy? In addition, Russia seems to be taking side with China already.
So it is clear that the ‘Fifth Diamond’, Trump needs, is a new and fair US-China relationship where the U.S. will work with China and cultivate a friendly relation rather than target China and stimulate an arms race like Barack-Hillary have done. Trump is correct to say that we need to bring jobs back to the U.S. and get our finance in order. This objective can be accomplished far easier by collaborating with China who is tuning her economy to a consumption driven economy. China needs hi-tech consumer goods not hi-tech weapons, why agitate China to invest in military development rather than assist China to elevate the standard of living of her billion people. In today’s global environment with nations mutually and closely interdependent, a nation is not a great nation because she has military might and uses it at will. A nation is respected only when she is genuinely able to help other developing countries to make economic gains. A smart helper can make great economic gain as well, recalling the post WW II U.S. Marshall Plan helping the Europe.
Defining and constructing a collaborative and productive US-China relation is the Fifth Diamond
that Trump would need to make a bridge game. In a ‘bridge game’, communication is the key element, the object of the bridge game is to bid and make a game if possible. A bridge game is not like the poker game, in which the winner takes all. In a bridge game, everyone tries to play the best making the game enjoyable by all. Three No Trump is a game and Five Diamonds is also a game but one must accept what cards are dealt to one’s hand and try to play the best game. Looking at the cards that are dealt to the parties of Republicans and Democrats, I venture to say that the Republicans have a chance to win the 2016 presidential election if Trump bids and plays a ‘Five Diamond’ game and ignore Hillary’s preemptive bid such as calling Putin as Trump’s partner or Trump does not have enough ‘experience’ points to make a game.