Trump’s 12 Forward-Looking Statements

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Trump’s 12 Forward-Looking Statements on Friday, July 22, 2016.

The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 states “businesses must comply to standards of communication that limit risk factors. These acts were put into place partially to protect investors from ambiguous language, preventing them from making a poorly informed investment decision based on speculative statements.” To observe this law, businesses today begin their presentations with a “Safe Harbor” statement to avoid forward-looking promises or forecasts of performance results. Key to this observance is to avoid predictions by avoiding the future tense.

As a man who has been campaigning for the presidency based on his success as an entrepreneur, Donald Trump is undoubtedly aware of this standard business practice. And yet, in his acceptance speech for the Republican Party last night, he made at least a dozen forward-looking statements.

About a quarter of the way into the seventy-minute speech, he said, “Tonight, I will share with you my plan of action for America,” and then, more often than not, omitted the specifics of his plan.

In doing so, he committed another common error in most business presentations. How often have you listened to speakers proclaim that their product or service would disrupt all other solutions and/or save the world? And how often have you heard those proclamations and thought, “How?”?

Given his business background, Trump did propose specific actions on the economy, taxes, trade, but when he ventured into areas outside that experience, he used the future tense at least twelve times, invoking a “How?” for each:

Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.

I will work to ensure that all of our kids are treated equally, and protected equally.

We are going to defeat the barbarians of ISIS.

I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens

We are going to have an immigration system that works, but one that works for the American people.

We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration

We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice.

You will be able to choose your own doctor again.

And we will fix TSA at the airports!

We will completely rebuild our depleted military

We will take care of our great Veterans like they have never been taken care of before.

I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans.

If a business makes a forward-looking statement and fails to deliver on that promise, the business is subject to a class action suit. If a presidential candidate fails to deliver on promises, the public, long-accustomed to failed promises, cannot sue, but they can express their displeasure at the ballot box.

Tanya Fruehe contributed to this post.

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Trump’s 12 Forward-Looking Statements on Friday, July 22, 2016.