In ancient Greek mythology, Antaeus  was the son of Poseidon and Gaea the goddess of the Earth. It was said that he could not be defeated so long as he touched the earth because Hera protected him. True to her word, he was invincible. The more he was knocked down, the stronger he returned. No one could defeat him until Hercules. Hercules understood that he had to severe Anteanus’ link to the Earth so he held him aloft and crushed him.
What is the source of Trump’s media strength?
Trump is a modern media Anteaus. To defeat him, you have to sever his link to what give shim strength free media from negative ad campaigns that feature him. Each time he was attacked he became stronger because he drew the political oxygen from his opponents. The news cycles were dominated by him and the networks covered him because it helped them generate revenue. As the news cycles constantly buzzed with his outlandish statements (Build a wall!) (Mexicans are criminals!) (Ban Muslims!), he grew stronger.
To defeat him, his opponent must act like Hercules. They need to sever his free media attention by not attacking him directly. He wants to be negative. He wants to be attacked so he can counter-punch. He does enough to goad or bait his opponents into attacking him. Yet, on his own, he is empty of meaning for he is incoherent. He has no message beyond Make America Great Again.
Attack him without mentioning him
The strategy to defeat him is to promote a message he has to counter with a message. If he criticizes, side step the attack and counter by asking “What is he going to do?” Imagine a whole debate where he is not attacked. When questions have to be asked or he has to be addressed, then it should be about concrete issues not his response, not what he has said in the press, only a concrete issue of the day. The goal is to ignore him personally. Focusing on his personality will only strengthen him. The positive strategy is to focus on substance. What will benefit the Americans. What will change?
Competency, Leadership or brand bully?
Trump knows branding. He won the primaries on his brand. To defeat his brand, the strategy has to be to show its toxicity without referring to him. The advertisement “Smoking Kills” is not about a cigarette brand. One way to do this is to have adverts about bullying, sexism, abuse, that raise concerns about his brand. If he relies on spontaneity and entertainment, focus on whether that is presidential brand? Imagine Trump in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Would we get John F. Kennedy or would we get General Ripper from Dr Strangelove? Instead of entertainment, focus on competency. When has he made decisions about the common good? When has he made decisions about national politics or international politics? These are not questions to ask him directly or indirectly. Instead, it should be the mantra of the positive message. No one has ever been president without some elected office experience.