Did Donald Trump Catch Lightning In A Bottle? (Niche-Movement-Mainstream)

Watching the rise of Donald Trump from businessperson to reality TV star to possible President of the United States is pretty amazing.  I mean, Presidents have always said “It’s unbelievable that I could rise from (fill in the blank) to become President of the US”, but watching Trump is pretty unbelievable.

Most of the really harsh rhetoric I have read on Twitter, blogs, and Facebook about Trump comes from people that would never vote for any Republican.  They will say, “Gee I wish that the Republicans would nominate someone like Kasich because then we would have a choice.”

The Republicans have nominated very moderate Republicans since 1992, it hasn’t worked out well for them.  If they were playing the odds, Republicans should nominate a true conservative if they want to win.  However, we are experiencing very different political times.

That’s not to say Trump is a conservative.  He isn’t.  He isn’t moderate, or liberal.  He isn’t even a populist in the grand tradition of populists.  He is a different sort of thing, a different force.

The seeds for Trump were planted a long long time ago.  The rise of Trump has more to do with the rise of movements like Hip Hop than it does politics.  Movements don’t come out of nowhere.  They seem like it because people aren’t exposed to all of it forming.  All of a sudden, they get hit by a wave and panic.

Here is the linear transformation:  Niche—>Movement—>Mainstream

Movements come from fragments or niches.  Those fragments cycle through different facets of society but have some things in common.  Successful fragments that become movements have one key characteristic in common; they aren’t exclusive and they are collaborative.  This is very important to keep in mind when you look at Trump.

Scott Adams has done a very good job describing Trump as a Master Persuader.  He is a great salesperson.  He even has likable facets of his personality that you can find even if you dislike him.  But he hasn’t examined the niche that Trump has expanded and filled.

But, I want to look at something very different.  It’s why there is a wave and why it will crash on the beach that is America.  Trump is going to win the White House in a landslide.

As my friend Jeff Minch accurately describes, the first real manifestation of the wave was the Tea Party in 2009.  Obama was elected as a transformational President.  Almost immediately he showed his true colors with the stimulus package.  Americans were outraged.  The stimulus failed of course.

What was the response?

Huge Republican majorities in both federal and state houses.  Republican governors.  It got so bad that in many elections it was hard to find a donkey or a D next to a candidates name.

But, the seeds of Trump were sown way before the Tea Party.  Here are some signs of niches.

In very left wing liberal Minnesota, they elected Jesse Ventura as governor.  He ran as an independent but he was a force of personality.  A former Navy SEAL and former wrestler.  He had no bonafides to be a governor and had little in common with the hard left wing that runs the state.  But, the little people spoke out and went for him.

In very left wing liberal California, they elected Arnold Schwarzenegger governor.  Again, no political bonafides.  He was a different kind of Republican.  In left wing liberal New York City, Michael Bloomberg was elected mayor.  No political bonafides, except a successful business career to show for his life.  Same, different kind of Republican that didn’t lead with social issues.  Supposedly “socially liberal and fiscally conservative”.

In Wisconsin, a businessman was elected to the Senate.  In Illinois, a businessman was elected governor.  In Florida, a businessman was elected governor.  Again, they ran on economics and not social issues.  They were hugely successful businessmen but had no political bonafides.

Then, there was a movement.

In Florida, Marco Rubio was a Tea Party candidate okay with GOPe and was elected Senator.  Fiscal conservatives were elected all over the US.  They form the Freedom Caucus.  The establishment hates them, and the media tries to discredit them

But, GOPe isn’t interested in actually passing laws around fiscal conservatism.  It uses that as bait, and social issues as the hook to retain power and keep people in line so the GOPe hierarchy can feather their own nest and protect/enrich their own favorites.  They thought they could “control” the movement.

In the blogosphere, bloggers from both parties came out against crony capitalism.  They knew the way we were running things was wrong.  They had a forum to spread the news.  In the Democratic party anger is likely to manifest itself at Wall Street. In the Republican party, K Street.

The mainstream media and establishment Democrats/Republicans rebelled and tried to quiet the flames but it was too late.  They simply could not fight the flood of accurate information coming out of social media-and there was so much noise and so many channels-they lost control of their power.

There was a nationwide movement.  The individual pieces were disassociated but collaborative.  Anyone could participate.  Bloggers could link to each other.  Bloggers could spread the news about a political candidate and raise money.  Social media could inform, and make things transparent.  Mainstream media viewership was way down and they lost their influence.

All of a sudden, people like Senator Mitch McConnell that we thought had our back was sticking a knife in it and helping people on the other side of the aisle twist it.  Things became transparent.  The “conservative” wasn’t so conservative.  Senator Ted Cruz got up and called him a liar.  From the Republican perspective, we knew that the Democrats were crony capitalists and in bed with unions and businesses; but we hated to find out first hand about one of our own.

On the flip side, Democrats are showing their own signs of participating in the movement.  Their DEMe candidate, Hillary Clinton has no life in her campaign.  No fervor.  No real emotional pull.  Bernie Sanders is the one with the energy.  Democrats know that something stinks.  They thought Obama was going to be transformational and he wasn’t.  He didn’t go far enough for many of them; but for others he was simply more of the same.  Democrats are participating in the wave as well.

When waves start to form, the establishment fights.  The Tea Party was evidence of that.  The establishment outrage over Trump is that.  The establishment quest to placate the Bernie Sanders supporters is that.  The riot in Chicago over the Trump rally was a manifestation of the establishment trying to quiet and stop the wave.

But, there were other candidates that ran with Trump like credentials.  Why haven’t they succeeded?

Carly Fiorina captured the fancy of many of anti-establishment Republicans. She is very well spoken and very smart.  I like the way she approaches the role of government in society.  Dr. Ben Carson was very well spoken too.  He believes in small government.  Both were out of the mainstream.  But, their campaigns were factual, not emotional.  People are bored with facts.

Candidates like Scott Walker and Rand Paul were certainly out of the mainstream.   So were Cruz and Rubio. But, they came from inside the party.  The anger that was boiling over wasn’t interested in mainstream anything.  As a few people have told me, “Trump will fight for me, Trump can’t be bought.”

Trump has his finger on the emotional pulse of America, and effortlessly knows how to talk to it.  People don’t buy with their deductive brain.  They buy with their limbic brain.

All that remains now is for Trump to go mainstream.  When he goes head to head with Hillary, it will be the establishment’s last stand.  I foresee a small minority of Sanders voters switching sides to vote for Trump, since he isn’t a “real Republican”.  The more the GOPe fights Trump, the more that he will be able to peel off Democrats.

Republicans will be left with a Solomon’s choice.  Vote for Hillary, and you know you get crony capitalism on steroids.  You also get shitty Supreme Court justices that will not respect free speech, property rights, and other individual rights.  That’s bad for business and given the huge offensive Obama waged against business the last 8 years, it’s probably one they can’t stomach-but they might be able to stomach a perceived 4 years of Trump.

Of course, in the aftermath of the blue states, they got bluer.  Some of that is gerrymandering, but a lot of it was because people left the state and the voting base got bluer.

In my own home state of Illinois, the best election to look at was the re-election campaign of Democrat Ken Dunkin.  He lost.  He went against the Democratic Machine and they made him pay.  That was a sign to every Democrat that if you think out of the box, you are done.  The Iron Fist of leadership will crush you and kill your hopes for the future.  Better kiss the ring, bend your knee and bow.  If Dunkin would have won, other Democrats could have become independent against the establishment of their party.

My prediction is that the Democrats will now stonewall even more against Governor Rauner further.  They will wait him out.  In the meantime, independent and Republican voters will flood away from the state-making it bluer.  Rauner will have a very hard time in 2018.  It very well might be curtains for Illinois fiscally.

It’s pretty hard to leave the country.  If Trump governs in ways that blow up the establishment bases in both parties, we will have a very different looking government system coming out of it.  If he is elected, a lot of people on both sides of the aisle will be hopeful.  If he doesn’t, then the next President will probably be more establishment than any President we have had before.


To be clear, I donated money to Scott Walker.  I wanted him, or Rand Paul to become our standard bearer.  I am not a huge fan of Trump and really don’t want him to be the Republican nominee.  Given the three choices in front of Republicans, I think Senator Ted Cruz is the best choice for Republicans.  But, I observe things closely as a matter of habit.  In the 2008 election, I donated money to Hillary because I really disliked Obama.  But, the rise of Obama is similar to the rise of Trump.

9 thoughts on “Did Donald Trump Catch Lightning In A Bottle? (Niche-Movement-Mainstream)

  1. I agree with JLM. Well reasoned and articulated. I too may be one of the fiscal convervatives who flee a blue state (California). Keep up the great posts.

  2. Excellent piece though I completely disagree;) Trump is a fool and I’ll be happy to vote for Hillary and glad to see her president.

    1. You were voting for Hillary regardless who the Republicans nominated! Important to note, when it comes to niche/movement/Mainstream, there is 0 difference between Hillary and Jeb Bush.

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