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A Demonstration of Persuasion - Part of my Trump Series - Dilbert Blog

A Demonstration of Persuasion – Part of my Trump Series

Today, as a demonstration of persuasion, I am going to show you one way Donald Trump could convince you to support his immigration plan, even though I don’t support the plan myself. (But I also believe it is a negotiation anchor, not a real plan in its current form.)

Some of you already love Trump’s immigration plan as is. I’m not talking to you today. And I probably won’t be making my case the way you make yours, so assume I’m not on your side either.

Today I’m talking to the skeptics who believe it is impossible to seal the border for less than a trillion dollars (give or take) and that it would be inhumane to deport 11 million people. You folks have a strong, common-sense argument. But I’m going to show you that Trump could persuade you to support his immigration plan before it is all said and done. And it won’t be that hard.

I am not making a specific prediction on Trump’s immigration plan, or how he handles it going forward, because there are a million directions it could go. The point today is to imagine he could get you on board, and easily. So this is more of a brain exercise than a discussion of policy.

Assuming Trump is being consistent with 100% of his history, as well as his best-selling book on the topic of negotiating, his immigration plan is a first offer, and an anchor to make whatever deal he finally makes seem entirely reasonable. To believe Trump’s first offer is his final plan is to believe Trump changed his most fundamental belief about negotiating when it mattered most. Does that seem likely? (If you said yes, you probably have some cognitive dissonance that makes you believe he must be a racist.)

For the record, I do not know what is in the man’s mind. But what I see is a guy doing the same thing he always does and the public putting a new interpretation on it. This time, say the critics, he is abandoning his lifetime pattern of negotiating with an extreme opening offer just so he can be terrible to brown people. 

Well, maybe. Like I say, I don’t know what is in the man’s head. But when a duck walks and talks like a duck all of its life, I don’t know how this one time you say he must be a beaver unless cognitive dissonance is part of the answer.

You might say Trump is just trying to get the nomination with his hard line views on immigration. Then he will soften his stance in the general election, and perhaps again as president if he wins. That too would be consistent with a Trump that knows strategy and plays to win.

But in that view, you agree with my notion that his current plan is not the real plan and was never intended to be so.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Follow me on this train of thought:

Let’s say Trump picks Mark Cuban as VP. (Already seems likely.)

Then let’s say Trump assigns the immigration issue to Cuban, with these instructions:

Bring me THREE plans, after you have your team of experts and economists study them thoroughly. The three plans should include:

1. The original Trump plan (with estimates of cost, human suffering, etc.)

2. A plan originated by the concerned Latino community that secures the borders (because countries need borders) and deals humanely with the 11 million Mexican citizens already living in this country.

3. A “Do nothing” plan that is whatever would happen if Trump had not brought up the issue. This too would include estimates of social costs.

Trump is the only potential president who could simply change his mind mid-stream because of new data or a better idea. No one else could survive a so-called flip-flop. Trump would be praised for it. And all he would be doing is business as usual. Business people generally want to see 2-3 plans with detailed cost estimates. Then they choose the best one. Trump can do that, even if it means departing from his original plan. No regular politician can do that.

And if Mark Cuban is behind the numbers on all three plans, do you trust him?

Probably. I mean, cost estimates are always iffy, but you know Cuban wouldn’t be trying to screw anyone intentionally. He doesn’t need to. He doesn’t even need the job.

And if Trump is fully transparent about his reasons for picking some modified (negotiated) immigration plan, how mad can you be, even if he picks the plan you didn’t love so much?

It is hard to hate a reasonable person who shows his work. And part of you only wants to live in a country that can do that sort of thing: Be smart, use data, change your plan when you need to. It feels like the future.

Realistically, the only way to solve the immigration problem is to talk extremely tough now, as Trump is doing, to keep the flow of new illegals under control. The incentive to immigrate is far lower if the odds of being shipped back are higher. That threat has to feel real, and Trump is selling it.

In other words, Trump has probably already slowed illegal immigration just by talking tough. There really is no alternative to tough talk about deportation if you are also talking about a wall. You don’t want to trigger a huge wave of new illegal aliens trying to get into the country before the wall is done.

Now let’s talk about that “wall” that is not a wall at all. Realistically, what we are talking about is sealing the border using whatever works for each area. Sometimes a fence will do it. Sometimes you need armed border guards. Sometimes you might need a bad-ass wall. So “wall” in this context just means sealing the borders somehow.

And one of those ways to seal a border might include a permanent force of drones and robots, at least for key spots along the border where a wall is either too expensive or not good enough. The drones and robots don’t need to stop everyone. If they catch most of the folks trying to cross the border, that should be enough to discourage all but the most motivated.

Once we test our drones and robots on our own borders, we will have the baseline technology for building a “digital fence” around ISIS someday that keeps the angry men in, allows the women and children to filter out if they want, and blocks all digital signals into the caliphate.

How long does ISIS last without women and without access to modern communications? 

Who cares? All we care about is allowing the women and children out if they ask. The long term Trump goal could be a country full of bearded, angry, masturbating men with no oil money and no modern technology. And we could toss any additional loose jihadists into the caliphate no matter what group they belonged to.

Experts say you can’t kill an idea with bombs. But you can sure kill an idea with a good wall. A wall, digital or otherwise, allows you to observe whether things are going better on one side or the other. Let the Caliphate full of bearded angry men build their perfect society. Then, in twenty years, compare it to Trump’s exclusive country club called America that is attracting all the top tech talent from everywhere. 

That’s how you kill an idea. You put a wall around it and let it play out. No argument needed. The idea kills itself.

So how does the United States pay for its border with Mexico? Trump says he will make Mexico pay for the wall. You laugh at that. Ha ha! Why would Mexico pay?

Now I will make you believe Mexico could pay for a wall. Or some of it.

Imagine Trump saying we will fast-track to citizenship any Mexican resident with tech skills or even top grades in school. Imagine Trump saying we want all of the top talent from Mexico. All they need to do is walk up to the border and show their high school or college transcripts with top grades. (And maybe take a 15-minute randomized test just to confirm.)

How does Mexico stop the brain drain then?

They build a wall.

And how does the United States pay for an army of drones and robots guarding our border (in spots) until Mexico builds their own wall? We don’t. We make the manufacturers of those technologies use it as a testing ground, in anticipation of getting big international contracts for sealing off ISIS and other borders elsewhere. Drones patrolling borders is going to be a big thing, everywhere. And we want American companies to own as much of that business as possible.

And what of the 11 million illegal residents? If we get the wall, we don’t need to worry so much about deportation because assimilation gets you to the same place over time. And I expect to see some sort of “pay for citizenship” deal that allows illegals to buy their way into the country in a variety of ways, assuming they have been law-abiding residents for years. American citizens would respect that. Fairness, after all, is the main issue. 

Oh, and about the racist thing. If Trump says he wants MORE Mexicans, not fewer – but only the top talent – how racist does that sound to you now?

Did I change any minds?

Scott

Have you checked out Top Tech Blog? I love that stuff.