What has really happened politically this year is that Donald Trump has started a new political party. It is the AntiEstablishment party, and it is doing very well currently. But make no mistake, it is NOT the Republican Party nor is it the Democratic Party.
To be sure, a majority of the new Antiestablishment party members come from the Republican ranks. And because of the way in which the system is set up, Trump had to run as a Republican . . . much to the current consternation of the more traditional Republicans. I think it is fair to say that there is legitimate panic about Trump potentially being the GOP standard bearer. The other day, Mitt Romney launched a remarkably powerful and well-documented diatribe on the scary prospects of Trump as the Republican nominee. In fact, in my view, Trump IS a is a very concerning figure.The only time I met him he was speaking at some form of a second rate Multi Level marketing convention on how to profit in the real estate market. But in some ways the enmity against Trump/Cruz, et al of those on the more traditional side of isles, is misplaced. What they need to have this year is a Message to those who feel like their voice has not been heard.
What has really happened this year is that the Donald, along with Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Ben Carson, have tapped into a portion of the electorate that has felt completely disenfranchised for years. In other words, IT COULD BE A MAN IN A CLOWN SUIT AND THEY WOULD VOTE FOR HIM OVER ANYONE PERCEIVED TO BE PART OF THE “Establishment party.”
What we should have had this year is a 3-way contest. It would have been more fair and more logical for all candidates. And we may yet see a three party system in this country. I am just coming to grips with the emergence of what may yet turn into three separate and distinct parties. I guess that it’s fine. It has unquestionably brought out a new set of voters. And that is a positive thing. For example, in the first four primaries this year, Republican turnout was 27% higher than in 2012, and the numbers continue to soar. Last week in Virginia, over a million people showed up to cast their ballots on the Republican side surpassing the GOP Primary in 2012 by nearly 750,000 voters.
As the Washington Times put it: “Republicans continued to shatter turnout records in their presidential primaries and caucuses Tuesday, while Democrats lagged behind in what analysts said was a clear indication of an enthusiasm gap heading into the general election.
My take – the last time people were this slow to pick up on a massive socio/political shift was when the Internet emerged in the 90’s and people dismissed it as something for just a bunch of Tech geeks.
As I reflect on this phenomenon, perhaps the answer to what is happening in today’s political environment can be explained with a tried and true business theory. The theory of disruptive innovation was developed by Harvard Business School’s inimitable Clayton Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma. Christensen used the term “to describe innovations that create new markets by discovering new categories of customers.”
Voila – that is precisely what the new Antiestablishment party has done. They have engaged in disrupting the political process and thereby brought to the political scene a whole new set of customers, aka voters. As Christensen, twice named the greatest business mind on planet earth, elucidated: Personal computers, for example, were disruptive innovations because they created a new mass market for computers thereby opening up a whole new set of customers; previously, expensive mainframe computers had been sold only to big companies and research universities. (aka the Establishment)
It is interesting to note that disruptive innovations usually find their first customers at the bottom of the market: in this case, it is the people most desperate for change. The Innovator’s Dilemma also talks about “incumbents” that are complacent and slow to recognise the threat from a seemingly inferior product, in this case, Trump. The disruptors end up massively changing their markets as Apple did with iTunes, Uber did in the transportation field, Google did in Research, and Twitter did with Print Media.
So this year, running for the Presidential nomination for the Antiestablishment party would have been Trump, Carson, Sanders and Cruz. Their message is simple: “Throw the Bums Out”– and it has resonated with many voters. This is the party of the disenfranchised, those people who have felt for years that they had no voice in how this nation is governed. Donald Trump, like him or not, has given voice to these people. This is the party of those who are saying what the actor Peter Finch famously said in the 1970’s filmNetwork: “I’m as mad as H…” , and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
And here is another thing about this party. It is not limited by geography or ideology. Wherever there are angry voters, they are attracted to this new independent party whether or not they recognize it as a political party.
For the more established parties, you would have seen the following candidates:
REPUBLICAN PARTY: Rubio, Kasich, Bush, Walker, Paul, Jindal, Perry, Christie, and Huckabee.
DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Hillary Clinton would have been anointed its candidate.
I ran my political theory by my 5,000 Facebook friends and received the following comments:
- From a woman who is very politically involved:
“I don’t know if I could stomach voting for her (Hillary) -I don’t want that on my conscience – but I think I would silently root for her. I have deep distaste for this man (Trump). I’d rather have a liberal than a fascist dictator.”
- To which another female replied:
“There is no perfect candidate running… So if you don’t like Trump because he stands up to all the haters (and he’s not a fascist dictator) but if you can’t stomach a tough President then go ahead and vote for Hillary who supports late-term abortion”
- From a California political junkie:
“Trump says stuff to get press, but I’m excited to see what a businessman could do in office that doesn’t pander to the polls.”
- A female multi-level marketing executive said:
“I like people who don’t do things because others tell them to. It is refreshing to see someone who at least speaks their mind even if we don’t always agree with how he does it.”
- From a very conservative middle aged man:
“It is a lot like the Tea Party really. I used to like him (Trump) ok, but now he scares me. Not your normal presidential candidate. He is more like a king.”
- From a young computer engineer:
“So in terms of logos, we have the Democratic Donkey, and the Republican Elephant. What animal do we assign to the Trump party?”
- One inventive homemaker then drew a picture of Shrek to represent the new party.
- To which another replied:
“No. Shrek is a kind and human guy. Trump is more like a badger. He just doesn’t care. And the more inflammatory he gets, the better he does.”
- From a Young female voter:
“Anything is better than what we have at the moment. God save America!”
- Mid-aged computer sales Exec:
“David — as an Independent, I think the Republican party is in trouble if they allow Trump to be their candidate. Not sure exactly how that all works, short of a brokered convention. The real question is will his demeanor change? Will he lead differently than he campaigns? My guess is yes….you saw a little of that tonight in his speech. Still not sure he can beat Hillary.”
In college, I majored in Political Science. The subject has always fascinated me.
Here is an interesting side note involving what many believe is the longest word in the English dictionary (which it is not). When I was a youth, I remember my brother and sister telling me that the longest English word is antidisestablishmentarianism. What this word meant originally was to describe those people in Great Britain who were opposed to the disestablishment of The Church of England as the official state sponsored religion. I think this word applies today to our political process.
Many people believe that in America there should be two State political parties. If you are opposed to that belief, then you are an“Antidisestablishmentarianismist” (added an “ist” and thereby invented a new word).
If you are opposed to the disestablishment of the two-party system in America, you are prototypical antidisestablishmentarianism. Thus you see, if you are in the antidisestablishmentarianism camp, you are Anti-Trump.
What Trump and Cruz have done amazingly well this year is removing the “dis” from this lengthy word and turned it into antiestablishmentarianism.
Not sure how all of this plays out, but unless I miss my current guess, I am going to have to get used to saying President Trump or President Cruz.
By the way, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the longest word has 45 letters:
And it refers to an occupational lung disease that is caused by someone inhaling too much crystalline silica dust that is otherwise known as silicosis.
Those who have been supporting our two party system for many years may be breathing a silicone like substance unearthed by the establishment…and they may need to consider changing.
The reasons for the emergence of the AntiEstablishment party will be the stuff political books will be examining for the remainder of the 21st Century. I will leave it to folks much smarter than I to figure it why this happened and why no one saw it coming! But unless the more moderate and traditional Republicans are able to hijack their convention from those of the Antiestablishment party that have already hijacked it, Trump or Cruz will likely be the GOP nominee. I am not a fan but I am just trying to get use to a potential new reality show in politics. And heck, in the end I have faith in America. We will have more bumps and bruises along the way but I am always hopeful that in the end we will stand tall as a nation.