In this episode of Uprising!!!by Scott Goodson, we interview Charles Rosen, a political strategist and social entrepreneur. Charles talks about the Trump movement, and how it’s changed political marketing forever. He has worked in so many political campaigns he really knows what he’s doing. He also operates New Ark Farms. For more ideas on Uprising and movements, cultural movements and movement marketing, follow Uprising!!! on Facebook. We’ll continue to publish brand-new columns on a regular basis. Hey, do us a favor and please give Uprising!!! a review on iTunes. Scott Goodson is the author of best-selling book ‘Uprising: how to build a brand and change the world by sparking cultural movements,’ available on Amazon.com. Scott has helped create and build some of the world’s most iconic brands. He is founder of StrawberryFrog the world’s first movement marketing agency.
Uprising Interview transcript
Announcer: Welcome, to Uprising.
Each episode looks inside what it takes to lead the most dynamic and successful cultural movements. Some of them in the business world, some in the social realm. Some in politics, and some in between. To see why people start uprisings. What gives those initiatives the momentum, and keeps them going? And most important, what lessons can you learn from these movements, and how to apply them to your business, and even personal life? Let’s explore the secret to sparking movements that move people into action.
Man Voice 1: Passionate ideas.
Woman Voice 1: Controversial ideas.
Man Voice 1: Uprising ideas.
Woman Voice 1: The power is now in the hands of anyone.
Man Voice 2: To start a cultural movement.
Man Voice 1: Your movement.
All Three Voices: To move the world.
Scott: Hello, I am Scott Goodson. Donald Trump made a decision to do something that is almost as old as the United States of America. He began the quest to become the President. It has been a campaign unlike anything we’ve seen before. He psyched out his opponents. He’s outwitted the GOP. He’s ignited a massive movement of followers across the country that continues to gain steam, feeding off fears and insecurities. At last reckoning, he seems unstoppable. Donald Trump. Love him, hate him. What can we learn from him?
Okay, how do politicians market themselves to attract followers and fans? Well, that’s exactly what Charles Rosen does. One thing Charles also focuses on is social entrepreneurism, and he employs a large number of former incarcerated men in Newark, New Jersey. People like Charles Rosen genuinely know what people across this country are feeling. Charles has worked in so many political campaigns across the country, and he kind of knows what he’s doing. He thinks Donald Trump has changed political marketing, forever.
Charles: When I was in Iowa in I guess 2007 or whatever, for Hillary, and I was canvassing with General Clark, with Leslie Clark, and we went to a trailer park. We were talking to these people, and this guy welcomed us into his house. I never seen a human being living in such squalor, and he didn’t have a job. It was the dead of winter, he was in his underwear, no teeth. He said to me at one point, “You seem like a nice, young man. You tell me one thing. You want me to go to the Democratic Caucuses? You want me standing for Hillary Clinton? You tell me what she’s going to do for us, the middle class!” But it was this sense of American exceptionalism, how we think about ourselves. Who we think we are. And I think Donald Trump, has played right into that. He is so proud to come off of his private jet to his funder, or his helicopter and talk about his homes and his business success because we want to see ourselves that way as Americans. We don’t care about policy. We don’t care about the reality of how the vast majority of African-Americans are living in our cities today. We don’t care about the water in Flint, Michigan. We don’t care about the fact that over half of us don’t have health insurance. We don’t care! We want to be Donald Trump. So yes of course, he’s built this perfect brand that again to me, typifies the American dream.
Scott: And what do you think about his celebrity status, and where even if people are shown his flaws, it doesn’t seem to taint him, or his brand?
Charles: Well, yeah. I can be as flawed as I am, right? I can have a ton of failures, and yet, I get ten billion dollars and a beautiful model wife out of the deal? That’s how people see him. They’re like, “Well, I know I’m flawed, and yet I could attain this, so sure,” And I think again, when you’re talking in ideological terms, you’re resonating only up to a symbolic level, the details aren’t part of the evaluation process, it’s just not. So yeah, he’s built a perfect brand for this. And you know, we all say none of think he went into this to want to be president. We all think he went into this to build the greatest branding campaign of all time!
Scott: In the end, he is just the greatest brander of them all.
Charles: Of them all! He started that way, and now he’s bought into his own shit, which is even better, you know? *laughs* Now he can’t step out because this thing’s got momentum. He’s going to wake up one day and, “Oh my God, I have to be President of the United States!”
Scott: Maybe we’re living in this era of reality television. It was like that movie a few years back with Jim Carrey…
Charles: The Truman Show.
Scott: The Truman Show, yes…
Charles: Yes, yes!
Scott: …where we become the society of reality television. So our primaries, and our election in the end will be a reality show. So that is what people expect. They don’t expect pleasantries, they don’t expect sophistication, they expect men to talk about the size of their hands.
Charles: It all started I guess with the Paris Hilton phenomenon, but we have a celebrity in this country rooted in nothing other than celebrity, right? You’re famous because you’re famous.
Scott: Is this a new political reality? Is this political reality show a strategy for how politicians need to seek office in the future?
Charles: I do not know anyone more equipped to be President of the United States than Hillary Clinton. I don’t know anybody who is more driven at public service than Hillary Clinton. I actually believe the Clintons stay together as a couple, have done all the work they have done because they are more interested in serving the people than themselves. Now, I’m not saying that doesn’t come without massive ___(05:50)___ kind of notions. You have to have a big ego to do this kind of work, it is rooted in service. Unfortunately, there’s is major tension between what it takes to be a candidate, and what it takes to actually be the President of the United States, which is arguably the hardest job on the planet.
Scott: If you were consulting with Hillary now, and it’s forgone conclusion that Trump is going to be the nominee for the Republicans, how would you prepare her?
Charles: Well I came home after Iowa, the first time around, and said to her and the team, “We’re going to lose to Obama. We’re going to lose.” What I saw (I can take you through this story if you want later,) the precinct I was riding through in Sioux City. The doors close at seven o’clock, but at a quarter to seven, the doors burst open and there was a parade of people of every color, age, music, and TV show all coming to stand for Obama. And I look over at my tables and I’ve got all the people we cleared out at the nursing homes, and we’re feeding them tea and little sandwiches, and I’m like, “Well, I want to be at that table!”. *laughs* You know? And I saw it. I felt it. I felt what a movement like that was like. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. And I came home, and I said to Terry McAuliffe, __(7:15)__ Wilson, the whole gang and them, and I said, “We’re going to lose to this.” And they said, “Oh, come on! Those are just words.” And I said, “Just words? Words are everything! Words are what we do for a living. Words free slaves. What are you talking about?”
Weirdly, I think this is almost bigger than Obama, I think. It was always interesting because there was also a calmness to the Obama movement in that African-American community understood the historic relevance, the weight of that moment in time. And there wasn’t hysteria around it. They voted in earnest. They got up, and they waited in line, and they voted in a way that they have never done, ever in the history of the country. They weren’t rioting, right? There was a solemn, historical weight to the Obama candidacy, and it was felt around the world. It repaired the damage to our reputation instantly. But I would say that the movement that got him there, again, his capacity to aggregate the people and beat the money, beat the machine. First the Clinton machine, then the Republican machine was something that I have never seen up to that point. But I would say, the Trump one is bigger. It’s louder, and it’s more forceful. And I think it’s going to be a tough battle for Hillary to go head-to-head with that. It’s blowing her mind. She’s like, “Do you not understand how good of a President I would be?” She has her character and qualifications, and she’s like, “God! What else do I need to do?” Because she can’t play that game, she can’t play that game.
Scott: There’s a great quote by Victor Hugo, which goes something like, “All of the forces in the world are not as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” So is Trump really just a crystallization of how everyone is feeling, like Obama was?
Charles: Yeah, I mean, when did this start? When did this movement start? I would argue again that Bernie Sanders is riding the same wave, coming at it from a different vantage point. But still, the country has woken up. I don’t know if it’s, again, because of democratization of information or I don’t know if it’s because some esoteric notion of the dawning of the age of aquarius…I don’t know what it is, but we’re awake. We’re awake, and change always has a tremendous amount of tension to it. You know, as an agency guy, the last thing a client wants is change, right? They cling to the status quo for dear life. You, as the head of the agency, your goal forever has been to shift public perception of something, of a company, of a brand, of an idea, right? So there was always this basic tension that I’m sure you felt every new business pitch between your goals of creating change and getting excited about that tension, and the client just clinging to their job. So change always has this tension to it. And I think, we’re maybe just at the beginning of it, I don’t know, but he’s tapped into that, in a big way. And again, he’s not responsible for it, but boy, he’s captured it more than anyone, except maybe Bernie Sanders.
You know, Scott I’ll tell you, it’s interesting, when I was in my race, and I had to go in front of __(10:57)__ because I this very presentable, Jewish candidate, and I said, “I don’t want to.” So I got back in the car with my campaign chairman who had been chief of staff for two members of the House before me, I said, “Mark, tell me what my job is. If I’m elected, I’ll do what I have to do for the campaign. But if I’m elected to the House of Representatives, what do I do for a living?” He said, “Well, you’re in D.C. two days a week.” Two days a week? Where am I the other five days? He said, “Well, your home in district raising money, you’re at at least three events a day.”
Charles: So I made a joke. I said, “Oh, so that gives me two days a week to do the work of the people?” He said, “No no no wait a minute. It is illegal to raise money on Capitol Hill, so we have a call center set up. You as a member of the junior party will spend a minimum of two to three hours a day in a call center dialing for dollars.” So I said, “How the fuck am I supposed to know what to vote for?” He said, “Every Monday morning, there’s a piece of paper on your desk, and you go down to the floor and you vote the way that piece of paper tells you to, and then you go home and raise money.” And I said, “I don’t want the job.” And I quit. The point is, we are all calling for systemic change. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have tapped into an anger and a fear and a frustration that is real. The question is, can they do anything about it? I don’t know.
Scott: Thank you for joining our uprising today, and listening to our show.