Brands differentiate one from another. Some are kind, like kindergarten, and some are threatening, like the army. Some are rational, like Wittgenstein, and some are crazy, like Salvador Dali. It is a peculiarity of any brand that it is not good or bad by its characteristics, but only by consistency by which brand elements realize themselves through interaction with customers. The army is supposed to be consistent in its values (brand elements) as much as Dali was consistently crazy. Both are good brands as brands. If they behave consistently in any way, customers can decide which one to use. Some prefer the army, and some prefer Dali.
Are presidential values absolute?
No one says that a president should be either kind or threatening; neither is necessary for a president to be rational. Humans are not rational. I’m personally afraid of people that act as if they were rational. Hilary Clinton, for instance, pretended to be such a rational machine. And if there were not some fluctuations in Zuckerberg’s behaviour under Congress investigation, he would look like a machine. But he did not. There were so many fluctuations in his responses that he appeared even too passionate and human for a manager of one of the largest and most influential corporations on Earth).
To return to the president, and I mean The President is the only Donald Trump. To be a good brand, you only have to stay consistent. Suppose one is elected as a president; that already means that he or she was chosen by his or her brand characteristics. That means that Trump was already bought as a preferred brand, and his brand characteristics as appealing to the majority in 2016. By saying that his values are not yours, you are not discrediting his values; you only say that you are not his customer (or better, that he is not your customer). There is no outside, absolute authority that could judge. There were a couple of such authorities in the past as collectivist leaders. As a matter of fact, you can find them even now. But more about that later. What is essential to understand is that when any truth is decided interpersonally (by choosing a mate in the branding process), one can be authoritarian (like Orban, for instance) but cannot perform the collectivist fallacy.
“America First” rationale
I do not know specific brand elements that prevailed in previous USA elections in Trump’s direction. And I do not care since I am not a US citizen. But one value that touched me as a non-US citizen: “America First”. I am afraid that only a few understand what that value stands for. One could paraphrase it in another way so that message comes across easier: “I do not care for the rest of the world”.
There is an ancient saying you can find in almost all traditions: “One cannot change the rest of the world. One can only change himself”. This fundamental truth of human life and human evolution, which is also one of the core values of homonism, can be traced not only on an individual level but on all levels of human civilization. A family cannot change another family. A church cannot change me. A company cannot change another company. A state cannot change another state. A brand cannot change another brand.
“America first” was a promise that the US would abandon its policy of being a kind of guardian angel that will change all other nations that are not good enough according to some absolute standards. Since we now (I hope) understand that neither standards nor values are absolute but interrelational/intersubjective, that meant that Trump promised to change America from a collectivistic fantasy of the last 95 years into a liberal stance where America takes care of America and Syria for Syria.
“America First” fade out
If all kinds of trade wars that Trump introduced recently could be understood as perhaps stupid actions but still focused on changing America and not the rest of the world, the demonstrative attack on Syria debranded him from “America First” value. And it does not matter if the attack was severe or just symbolic. Since we know that humans are symbolic creatures, it is even worse if the attack was symbolic. It clearly stated that “America first”, a promise at the core of Trump’s brand, disintegrated.
Brands do not fail by choosing the wrong values. They break when they abandon values already selected (co-branded) by their markets. Such action is called debranding (just made up this term). Trump debranded himself with Syria. He used to be an authoritarian leader; from now on, he moved to collectivist fallacy pushing America back on the long-known collectivist path.