First, I outline Trump's strategy. Then, I outline how Bernie Sanders (or anyone else with enough personal substance) can use Trump's stategy against Trump -- and "one-up" him.
THE UNDERPINNING OF TRUMP'S STRATEGYI start with the central observation about the underpinnings of Trump's strategy: All perception requires contrast.
This fact may seem to be a dry and mental abstraction -- but it pertains to politics and to political advertising.
You can't see a black cat in a coal bin at midnight; you can't easily see a polar bear against the white of snow. the lack of contrast makes them hard to see in those environments.
Contrast makes things distinct. It makes the differences between candidates distinct. It makes the differences between "before and after" distinct. It makes people wake up and feel possibilities that, before, were not so distinct.
HOW TRUMP HAS USED CONTRASTTrump, in his years as a failure in business and bullshitter (i.e., "con man" and "crook"), learned to employ contrasts to his advantage.
- his vilification (vile and false criticism) of those whom he opposes or those who oppose his interests
- his hyperbolic (excessive) praise ("hype") of his own self-proclaimed accomplishments and of those whom he has appointed
His hyperbolic praise of himself and of his appointees gives his supporters a "feel-good" boost -- a boost that comes not by because his praise is truthful, but because hearing praise (true or untrue) makes people feel good.
To those two, false vilification and hyperbolic self-praise ("hype"), he adds misdirection: displacing blame for the plight of his supporters (and blame for the trouble into which he as gotten himself) onto others (Obama, Democrats, Progressives); and using invalidation: "fake news" and "witch-hunt" accusations.
Here's why Trump was able to parlay his bullshit and incompetence into the Presidency:
His supporters are feel-good junkies because of their feelings of despair, of being oppressed, at a disadvantage (and "it's someone else's fault"). They're desperate to feel good, again, and that is why they responded to his vilification of the political establishment, vilification of false "enemies" such as Muslims and immigrant refugees (scapegoats), vilification of political Progressives, and vilification of those who tried to get him out of office through impeachment -- and why his supporters responded to his meaningless, unfulfilled promise of, "Make America Great, Again" (i.e., "Feel Good, Again") and why they accept his support of a system of abusive Capitalism (e.g., tax cuts for the wealthy, subsidies to big businesses (oil companies) at taxpayer expense, and attempts to undermine public-benefit programs (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, NPR, Planned Parenthood, and institutions (E.P.A.) -- to their own disadvantage.
The "chickens" support "Colonel Sanders" because he makes them feel good by telling them what will make them feel good -- regardless of his plans for them.
Trump's supporters are emotionally driven, but of low integrity, regardless of academic or professional credentials; they don't "fact check" his claims or they emotionally (but not intellectually) invalidate what such fact-checks reveal, so desperate are they to believe his "stable genius", "everything's under control" image, so they can continue to believe him and to feel good, again (based upon what he says, not upon what he does). They don't want to know the truth because it throws them back into their despair. That's their lack of integrity.
So, Trump uses false vilification, hyperbolic praise of himself and of his appointees, misdirection and scapegoating.
The contrast between vilification and praise (whether true or false, it doesn't matter) makes the praise seem brighter and the vilification seem worse. His use of misdirection and scapegoating blunts his hearer's Truth Sense, so they become more willing and able to believe what they want to believe, so they can feel better.
That is how Trump campaigns, how he conducts the Presidency.
He developed these strategies because he had nothing substantial to offer, because he was unwise and incompetent, so he had to learn to control how others perceived him. Ring true?
Now, it's not so much a matter of intelligence, as of habit.
Bernie Sanders campaigns on the merits of his policies and program proposals; on the merits of filling actual, desperate needs.
BERNIE SANDERS' APPROACH
However, he hasn't effectively employed both praise and vilification to exploit the contrast between them, for the emotional power that that the contrast between them can generate.
Nor does he call out Trump's strategies of misdirection and scapegoating and so he misses an opportunity to expose and disarm them.
Bernie's been good at vilifying Trump and his administration and highlighting the crises their actions have worsened, but he hasn't used praise, enough (elsewhere), to use the emotional power of contrast. Even his acknowledgements of Joe Biden as a decent man and of the virtues of others in politics fail to match the intensity of his (justifiable) vilifications; the occasions of praise have been too brief, and so the emotional contrast between vilification and praise has been relatively weak.
Therefore, his position has been relatively monotonous, and what is monotonous fades from people's attention. What's monotonous is uninspiring.
Whom might he praise? He might praise both his public supporters' higher integrity and his campaign volunteers' inspiration, diligence and results. He has gone as far as to laud their results: record numbers of grassroots contributors; he might lavish much more praise -- both to inspire them and to give the unconvinced more "feel-good" lifts from hearing that praise.
Voters are looking to feel better. They will vote for the candidates who make them feel better, the most, who make them feel inspired. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an example of such a candidate.
The difference between his taking this approach (praise and vilification, which, in certain ways, mirrors that of Trump) is that, in Bernie's case, the praise would be TRUTHFUL. Truthfulness would be "the something extra" that Trump lacks. Truthfulness is Bernie's "strong suit"; truthfulness gives traction.
The term, "Fireside Chat" came from the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (as did the term, "New Deal").
BERNIE'S FIRESIDE CHAT
Roosevelt used Fireside Chats not just to highlight the challenges and necessities of the times, but also to /reassure/ the public in a time of crisis. Roosevelt used Fireside Chat's to make people feel better.
Bernie missed the opportunity in his first Fireside Chat to /make people feel better/. His interviewer didn't help any, lacking the understanding that the purpose of a Fireside Chat is to reassure people. This Fireside Chat was a Fireside Chat only because he did it next to a wood-burning stove, not because it reassured people. It was mostly a re-statement of urgencies.
THE UNDERMINING OF TRUMP'S STRATEGYFuture Fireside Chats would well consist of both statements of the urgencies of the times and their solutions -- and LIBERAL PRAISE WHERE PRAISE IS DUE.
Make Fireside Chats UPLIFTING.
Use criticism and praise, both, in close balance (or even "heavy on the praise") for the emotional leverage their contrast generates -- and also call out, expose, and neutralize the effects of misdirection and scapegoating.
Give people the opportunity to feel better by hearing praise (as well as reason for hope). Give people the opportunity to be attracted to Bernie as the candidate who gives them a lift based upon truthfulness (rather than based upon deception, as by Trump).
Rather than "bumming people out" (making people feel worse and merely repulsed by candidates in competition with Bernie), give them a candidate who makes them feel better, immediately, by their hearing praise that is deserved; praise people for supporting what he stands for, for supporting what is in their own best interest, for their integrity.
That's a further form of, "Not just me. Us."