In medieval times, the melee or “mass tournament” was a popular form of combat in tournaments. The term derives from the Old French meslee “brawl, confused fight; mixture, blend” (12th century). The purpose, besides entertaining the people and the aristocrats, was to establish a knight as the most dominant.
Melee is a good term to use for modern American presidential campaigns.
In 2016, Trump was one of 17 Republican candidates. He started out with a low poll number and knocked each one of his competitors out of the race, one by one. He emerged as the nominee and the winner (yes, loser in popular vote, yes, helped illegally by foreign agents, but winner and president nonetheless).
His ability to defeat 16 competitors, turning front-runners into challengers, added to his attraction to far-right Republicans, establishment Republicans, and voters who don’t claim to be of any party. It made him look strong, tough, smart, ruthless, powerful … presidential … despite his asinine behavior, personality, and policies.
He looked strong because he overcame many, many opponents.
He won the election, in part, because he understood how to use a large field of opposition to his advantage.
Democrats should learn how to win by studying the winners.
Image credit: Wikipedia Commons, Turnierbuch des René von Anjou, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, Ms. fr. 2693