Can Donald Trump Play the Main Room?
August 7, 2015
Reverend Al Sharpton used an explanation of the difference between playing the lounge and the main room in a glitzy Las Vegas hotel. The explanation, given to Rev. Sharpton by the soul singer James Brown, helps to clarify Donald Trump’s political trajectory. (Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart also referenced this explanation to explain the same phenomenon.)
To succeed in lounges, which are for raucous entertainment such as gambling, dancing, and meeting with friends, performers must be loud, brash, and flamboyant. In the main rooms, there is a more decorous audience who are primarily interested in the see a top-notch show. The costumes, choreography, and musical arrangements are expected to be of the highest quality. The type of performance that will lead to an invitation for the main room is different from the performance that will be successful in the main room.
We, the audience, and all the candidates, the performers, are all in the lounge now. We will, at some point, be moving to the main room. Only some of the performers, however, will be moving into the main room.
As the venue changes—moving from the lounge to the main room—some of the performers who were successful in the lounges will fail in the main rooms. Not only are the criteria for performances different in the two venues, but the main room performance cannot be so different that the performers are unrecognizable from their lounge performances.
Too many of the political pundits have been unable to describe what is happening, let alone offer cogent explanations for why it is happening because they do not seem to realize that the criteria are different. They have made various predictions of when the voters will tire of Mr. Trump and so far have been glaringly wrong. This analogy should provide some guidance.