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The Hidden Meaning of the 2016 Election

The Hidden Meaning of the 2016 Election

November 15th, 2016 // 7:43 am @

The election is over. Now comes the truly important part.
And it depends on you, more than you realize.

 1. The Two Nations in the U.S.

america_crumblingForget everything you thought politics were about in America. The Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump revolution of 2015-2016 taught us something very important about our country. We sort of knew it already, but now the evidence is clear.

We are two nations. Not one nation, but two. Distinct. With different goals and dreams. With a different view of what is good and bad. And with almost opposite beliefs about what we want in the next four years, and beyond.

Regardless of how the media has portrayed things during the long months of the election, this great national division isn’t Red versus Blue states, Republicans versus Democrats, or whites versus minorities. It isn’t the same old battle between conservatives and liberals. Something new is afoot.

We are a nation divided. A nation split–fractured, in fact. In 2016 this division came to a head, but the election didn’t put an end to it. Not even close. We are a nation split between the political class, the elites, on one side, and the great mass of citizens on the other. But the differences between these two classes are significant. Specifically:

  • The masses want to put the election behind them and get back to their daily lives. They hope the agents of change they elected will make things better, so they can focus on their families, jobs, and hobbies.
  • The political class from both parties, Democrat and Republican, feels slapped in the face by the 2016 election. In every way they were put in their place by the voters. They’re not used to this. In fact, they’re used to sneering at the regular people in the nation, the people who live in rural towns and flyover states (the states “important” people fly over when they travel from one coast to the other). They’re used to laughing at the idea that the masses run this country. So now, with the fresh sting of the election driving them, they’re going to go to work every day to get their power back.

These are the Establishment of both parties, the elites in finance, academia, media, Hollywood, and lobbying. Many of them live in the Boston/New York/Washington D.C. corridor, and a lot of them live in the largest 100 U.S. cities that are home to the elites in each of the 50 states.

These Establishment members, the political class, care little for the struggles and challenges faced by the regular people. This group strategizes, debates, plans, and implements its policies, while routinely telling the masses to leave politics to the experts. “We’re the adults,” the elite class smugly tells the rest of us on any major issue of politics and policy. “Leave governance to us. Only we really understand what you need.”

The masses are, naturally, upset by this approach. But the problem is much deeper than the elites admit. The political class is now angry. The elites lost the battle in the recent election. But they are committed to win the long-term war.

Two Americas indeed.

2. The Political Class versus The People

The political class includes elected officials, federal government employees and bureaucrats, the media, academia, Wall Street, Hollywood, celebrity athletes, and anyone who lives in the elite, big-money bubble that insulates them from the daily struggles of the working class in this sputtering economy. This group benefits from the way Washington has done things for the past thirty years. They are wealthy and influential in the current system. They don’t want change. They are shocked by what happened on election night 2016.

They want higher taxes and even more regulation, a bigger Washington, bigger government, bigger programs, more bureaucracy.

This isn’t what the masses want.

But as mentioned, the masses see the election as over. They want to go back to work, hoping their newly elected leaders will fix things. In contrast, the political elite class is now ready to go to work winning back their power—to do whatever they can to block the revolution that put Trump into office, to do whatever they can to keep things the same in Washington and around the nation.

And the political class does this full time. For most of them, it is their job, their career, their work—and they’re at it 60-80 hours a week, day after day, month after month.

3. A New and Different Culture War

As part of this trend, more of the regular people will find themselves feeling less tolerance for celebrities, actors, singers, sports figures, news pundits, and professors trying to use their fame or authority to influence politics. The whole elite class is now considered suspect at a deeper level than ever before. “We’ll attend their movies and watch them play basketball,” the masses now say, “but we don’t care what they say about politics. They’re part of the Establishment. What could they possibly know about what’s best for me and my family?”

The elite class hardly knows what happened on election night. They are shocked. They loved their life of influence and prosperity. They struggle to believe that others don’t love what America has become as well. They don’t quite realize that much of America doesn’t like them anymore—that, in fact, lots of Americans see them as part of the problem. This is bewildering to them. They thought they were part of the “in crowd.” Now they discover they are seen as insiders by most Americans, but that this isn’t a compliment. It’s a term of derision.

On election night, one pundit on a major news channel told how he went to the gym during a break in election coverage and heard two men talking about politics. One of the men was elated that Trump was winning, and the second man asked him how he felt about a certain Trump policy. The first man quickly replied, “Who cares? At least Trump isn’t one of them.”

The reporter immediately grasped that the man wasn’t referring to Democrats as “them”. He was talking about politicians—from both parties. “One of them” meant anyone in the political class, be it Dole or Gore, McCain or Obama, Hillary or Jeb Bush, Romney, Rubio, Sanders, or Cruz. All of “them.” Then, later, it dawned on the reporter that he was one of the “them” too.

Imagine his surprise. Was it followed by feelings of defensiveness? Was he offended? Did he want to distance himself from the “them” crowd? It may have been the first time in his adult life that he felt like he was suddenly out of the popular clique and one the outcasts. “Them! Me? Wait…”

But how did a billionaire from New York City convince the nation that he wasn’t one of “them”? The answer is amazing. He did what pretty much nobody in the elite class ever does—in Boston, New York, Washington, L.A., or the smaller state-capital elite cliques around the nation. He did something very simple: he talked off-the-cuff, like the regular people. He made regrettable gaffes and misspoke from time to time – more like a high school football coach or a construction crew foreman than a polished banker, lawyer, or doctor. He called names, pointed fingers, talked back in bombastic tones and used colorful language. Nearly every time he went on TV or gave a speech he proved that he wasn’t one of “them.”

In fact, this very behavior made him one of the most despised presidential candidates ever—in the eyes of the political class. It made the college-educated embarrassed to support him, and it made Millennials loathe him as a virtually monolithic block. To the regular people, however, it did the opposite. It gave them hope. He acted like one of working class. Their response? “Who cares. At least he’s not one of them.” And they elected him.

This is a cultural war that most elites don’t understand. They are widely socialized in college, corporations, meetings, boardrooms and other air-conditioned settings where oxford collars and blue blazers are universal, and the elite code of manners is ubiquitous. Anyone who doesn’t meet their code of behavior is quickly ostracized, not out of malice but usually just for comfort. This becomes part of their culture, their ethos.

When elites (gently socialized in this way) encounter people dressed like workmen, speaking with a regional accent (any region), they too often make certain ingrained assumptions: “slow, hick, uneducated, inferior” or something similar. It’s not meant to be a bias—the political class works very hard to never show any bias, and in fact to avoid bias at all costs (or, at least, the politically incorrect biases). But it is a bias nonetheless.

It was, in fact, this very bias that made almost all newsrooms on every national network laugh at the preposterous thought of Donald Trump actually trying to run for president. His ball cap worn with a suit, his bluster, his pugilistic stance in every conversation. All of this communicated “unworthy, inferior, lower class” to the political elites. “Buffoon” they told each other.

What they missed, what they can still hardly even fathom, is that at the very same time millions of working-class Americans were taking notice and thinking that Trump might just be for real. Those ball caps with suits looked an awful lot like prosperity to them. The brash attitude and demeanor felt authentic and unrehearsed, and made them feel like “he’s one of us.” When he attacked the media, or lashed out at “the potential Trojan Horse” of Syrian refugees, or said mean things about opponents, the elites and college-educated saw crassness while much of the working masses saw unpracticed transparency. The masses may have been wrong about this on numerous occasions, but the elites didn’t even realize what was happening. They were oblivious, smugly sure that they were still the undisputed rulers of the nation.

In short, elites and the masses read the entire election very differently right from the beginning. Elites saw a national joke, and called him “Orange” and “clown”; the masses watched the same interviews and speeches and saw one of their own who had achieved success.

As an article in The Atlantic put it, elites didn’t take Donald Trump seriously, but they did take him literally; working people took him seriously but not literally. They didn’t see his extreme remarks as racist or misogynist, they just saw him as a villain on a reality TV show—the villain says extreme things, and this makes him/her the most popular character on the show (meaning: the villain seldom gets sent home; it would hurt ratings too much). They’d seen the same plot on Survivor, American Idol, The Bachelor, and yes, The Apprentice.

4-The Real Solution for America

But, to repeat, the masses now have a problem. The election is complete, and for the masses this means turning politics over to their newly-elected leaders and getting back to the things they really care about in life. What the working-class people of America don’t quite realize is that for the elite class the end of the election means putting their full-time work into making sure the election doesn’t change things very much at all. They want things to stay the same. They like the world where they are the elites, with special perks and higher pay than the rest of us.

They prefer ruling from the Capital while the masses work for them in the Little Towns and Villages (see the Hunger Games series). They don’t want this latest election to be a revolution, a movement, or bring about any serious change. And they don’t want the anti-Trump protests to bring about any real change either. They want exactly the opposite. And they’ll spend their full time days and evenings working toward this goal.

In other words, if you dislike Trump, don’t expect the protests (including those that will probably sweep the nation again at inauguration time) to bring any real change. The elites don’t want change. And if you like Trump and want him to fulfill his campaign promises and really change things, expect the elites to block as much change as possible. Repeal Obamacare? Trump has already started talking about keeping parts of it. Expect the elites to do much to tone down and water down Trump promises. Will a lot change? Not if the elite class can help it.

So what can the regular people do? First, we must admit that the right kind of leaders can do exactly two things to really help us: (1) get Washington appropriately out of the economy and out of peoples’ business, and (2) keep our nation safe. This bears repeating: the government is needed to keep our nation safe, and to change the regulations so this once again becomes a land of real economic opportunity. This is exactly what the recently-elected leaders have promised.

But that’s only the starting point. The rest of the work can’t be done by any elected official, any Senator or President, any Governor or Judge. It can only be done by the people themselves.

This is the hidden truth behind the election, and if we fail to grasp this one great principle, the elites will win their way because not much will actually change in Washington or around the nation. If the new leaders make our nation safer and free our economy from the crushing mountain of government red tape that has hampered small business success for the past thirty years, they will accomplish everything government can and should do well.

The rest is up to us. The American Dream has always been a two-fold reality:

  1. The government protects our national security and maintains a nation of economic, religious, and other freedoms. This is the “free” part of free enterprise.
  2. The people widely engage entrepreneurial ventures and voluntarily build millions of small businesses around the nation. This is the “enterprise” part of free enterprise. If a lot of people don’t take the initiative to fix their nation, one business at a time, the politicians will never make our nation great.

A huge surprise-Freedom WorksFreedom only works if the people—not the government—figure out what needs fixing and fix it, and what needs to be built and build it. If government is in charge of such things (beyond protecting us from attack and overregulation), then freedom is always diminished. To cite Hemingway, freedom is lost a little bit at a time, and then suddenly all at once.

We’ve been experiencing the loss of our freedoms “a little bit at a time” for decades. Now we need to change things before the “all at once” kicks in.

Again, the solution won’t come from politicians. That’s what happens in monarchy or aristocracy. For real, positive change to happen the right way, the free way, it has to come from the people. And this means entrepreneurship: building businesses. The term for this in our history is “The American Dream.”

Only a refocus on entrepreneurialism across the nation will actually make America great again. Nothing else will do it. Nothing else will even come close.

The 2016 election could turn out to be a positive step in this process, because this time the masses (hopefully) put leaders into power who actually see the importance of free enterprise. But, to repeat: The elite class wants to stop this approach at all costs—they really do want a few elites (them) to run the show. This keeps them in power, in wealth.

So, whatever you feel about the elections, one thing is certain: The rest of us have a vitally important job ahead. If we want to remain free, and to actually benefit from the possible changes that hopefully come from the election, we’ve got to figure out how to get the regular people in America to stop waiting for a fix from Washington, and also stop waiting for jobs and better employment to fix things for them, and instead get to work building the kind of nation we really want—in families, communities, and mostly in small entrepreneurial businesses.

We can do it. But “we the people” must do it, or it won’t get done. Whatever deregulations and increased encouragement to small business Washington can provide in the months and years ahead will be helpful, but the future doesn’t depend on elections. Elections can help, but real success depends on whether we as a people reboot the American Dream by engaging an Age of Entrepreneurial Small Businesses—and the impact such free enterprise culture always has on families, morality, communities, jobs, and prosperity for all.

This has always been the key to American greatness.

It still is, whether we realize it yet or not.

As goes small business entrepreneurialism, so goes America. And this doesn’t mean someone else needs to be entrepreneurial. This is about you, me, and any person who actually cares about our American future.

Category : Aristocracy &Business &Citizenship &Community &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Education &Entrepreneurship &Generations &Government &History &Independents &Leadership &Liberty &Politics &Producers &Prosperity &Statesmanship

14 Comments → “The Hidden Meaning of the 2016 Election”

  1. BW

    7 years ago

    Okay, let’s do it!

  2. Heman Smith

    7 years ago

    Oliver, this is brilliant!! Absolutely insightful and disruptive (positively). I will share this, and speak if this in all my circles.

    Thank you!

    Heman Smith

  3. Gary

    7 years ago

    Thank you for sharing the “bigger picture” of what seems to be happening in our country. Everything happens as it is meant to be – when it is meant to be. We are now living the consequences of our complacency – our sole focus on self-interests. We are here to “serve” one another in love and respect. Individual love grows as we “serve” one another – as we come to understand one another – as we come to respect one another. We are not here to be served – or to rely on government – or others for our lives. Self-reliance is a basic principle of life that we have almost forgotten as we have given up individual responsibility for our lives to the many who have misled us into believing empty promises. We need to continually seek the “truth” of what is happening in our country – in our lives, and this election – and the outcome has helped us awaken to some of these truths. Thank you for your kind assistance in the work that you do.

  4. DJ Burgduff

    7 years ago

    Elite. Thanks for this Mr. Demille.

    I can’t help but find myself feeling like Trump is a Trojan horse himself. There’s no question that even amidst his seemingly brilliant campaign that he clearly falls within the elite class himself. Surely, someone amongst the elite thought an “uprising” was plausible and found Trump to be the ideal pivot. is it possible that some part of the elite doesn’t feel like they lost anything with Trump’s win?

  5. Rick D. Topovski

    7 years ago

    Thank You Oliver for this very insightful article.
    Being an entrepreneur is an awesome feeling.
    I will do what I can to share with as many people as possible regardless of their status.
    As long as they read this article with an open mind I feel your point will be understood and hopefully taken to heart.
    Maybe, just maybe, they will do something to help our GREAT Nation move forward.

    Thank You Again,

  6. Sue Lohr

    7 years ago

    I’ve been waiting for your interpretation of the election and am encouraged by what you have said. We are building our own business and have hope now for the future. We’ve read all your books – what a blessing you are to this nation!

  7. Robby

    7 years ago

    The wealthy elites do not want higher taxes and more regulation on corporations and the rich; they want less. Perpetuating the neoliberal policies (i.e., reduced regulations, reduced taxes on corporations and the rich, laissez faire “free” markets, trickle-down economics and free-trade agreements) of the past 35 years from Reagan to Obama has made them rich and powerful. You are not moving the cause of liberty by advocating for more of this.

  8. Tom D

    7 years ago

    I always felt that this election was about the two views. I differentiated it as:

    Globalist & socialist versus national sovereignty & free market enterprise.

    I recognized some time ago that both parties are nothing more than the left and right wing of the same bird. The single bits you rightly call the elite. They come across as opposites to fool the masses. But they are just opposite wings. In the end, they both flap and it still only results in the same thing. The elite. It’s soars higher while the rest of us are mere pray for the flying “elite” IRS of prey. Rather than an eagle like our national symbol, the elite bird is more like an owl, constantly vigilent in the night, observant and keeping a watchful eye, stealthily swooping down to snatch up in its talons stealing our freedoms like an unsuspecting field mouse (the working class citizen)! And just like a bird it needs BOTH wings to remain in flight and in power.

    I think you are correct. People voted for one flavor of party and professional politician, and the result was bigger government and less freedoms. They voted for the other party and the result was bigger government and less freedoms. So people instinctively maybe unconsciously knew that both parties were indeed the same. Sure they spend money in different ways and for different causes. But the end result is the same.

    Americans have done the yo-yo back and forth between the two parties and FINALLY they woke up!

    And Trump at least broke the mold. He was not a professional politician. Sure the pragmatic side was that he “had” to join one of the two parties. As the elite have “rigged” the game so that NO ONE outside of the 2 parties could ever compete for the Presidency.

    I think the main message that really connected with the voters is the whole idea that the system is “rigged”. The vast majority of the citizens and the working class folks have felt this way and thus immediately connected with Trump on this and gained their vote.

  9. EK bayer

    7 years ago

    DJ Burgduff- I agree about the Trojan horse & Trump being part of the elite. I also feel like this article fails to address the millions of people who are terrified and litterally threatened by Trump and the people he is tapping for his team. The goals of Trump’s administration will cause so much harm to so many people, immigrants, citizens, the poor, our brothers and sisters. They are not part of Hollywood or the liberal elite! I’m all for entrepreneurs and for small businesses to have a fighting chance. I can’t stomach why so many so-called Christians are supporting agendas that directly harm “the people” this article claims to speak for.

  10. Carla Snair

    7 years ago

    Fantastic article! I’m in Canada and same goes for here. I pray that people see the need to break away from the average life and go out and create new and exciting lives through entrepreneurship. Let’s be contributors to this society, not takers.

  11. Michael

    7 years ago

    Love this. It’s not about the parties. It’s not about left vs. Right. Its about fighting for our families, and fellow Americans. Game Time.

  12. Sylvia Panter

    7 years ago

    I appreciate your insight. Thank you!

  13. claver conquergood

    7 years ago

    thank you Oliver for helping the world with your wisdom, we the people need guidance from educated leadership models like yourself NOW to influence our future so that we can repeat history in a positive and prosperous direction. thank you for all you do to promote freedom and i know that you and your associates will do everything in your power to make sure the entrepreneurial revolution will go forward to help make this world a better place for all humans. my greatest wish is if every person could see the opportunity before us. this is our shot to turn it around ,wake up people,and take council from the leaders that can and will,with our help make America and the world great again. its time now , not on our watch!

  14. Jim S Smith

    7 years ago


    Nice that someone else noticed this!

    I am already catching much “flak” from folks who have fallen into the “cult of personality” that this “election” brought to the surface. I have decided to continue to do an “after-action review”, to quote in military terminology. Basically, a “political-autopsy” of the just-passed events.

    What I am seeing now, is that America’s “hopes” are about to be betrayed, yet AGAIN! (WHEN will the People EVER learn?!?).

    Some of the latest:

    The new President-Elect, apparently, is NOT … I repeat . . . NOT going to prosecuted Hillary, nor any of the Clintons nor their hireling goons for crimes committed! (It wasn’t just about those “e-mails”!) WHY is he defending a bunch of reckless and murderous traitors you ask? – It’s all “inside the beltway politics”, as usual.


    This article is also “SPOT-ON”.

    – Jim S.

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