Call it the “Trump Dynamic.”
When used as a noun, the dictionary defines “dynamic” this way:
A force that stimulates change or progress within a system or process.
Over at CNN, one of my fellow commentators, Mel Robbins, understands what I call the Trump Dynamic exactly, and she expresses it in business terms.
Robbins headlines the point this way:
Why Trump is beating Fox News — and GOP rivals
She writes in part, this:
If you understand nothing else about Donald Trump, understand this:
He has a particular mindset we see all the time in business — he’s “the disrupter.”
The disrupter is someone whose entire “brand” is to break the mold, to turn the way we do things on its head. Amazon did this with retail, Uber did it with taxi services, Airbnb did it with travel, Tinder did it with dating, Slack is doing it with email, Spotify is doing it with music, peer-to-peer lending is changing banking.
And Trump is disrupting politics.
… In his effect on everything from Fox News to the Koch Brothers to the newspapers that endorse candidates, Trump has disrupted every single aspect of the game of politics and created new rules — and based on the polls, what he’s done is working.
Robbins isn’t the only one who has noticed this. Rush Limbaugh has nailed it exactly, saying, in part, this:
This stuff all reminds me of Steve Jobs, in a way. Steve Jobs, one of his big advertising slogans early on in the days of Apple was, “Think different.” And Jobs would constantly tell people (paraphrasing), “Why do you assume everybody’s smarter than you are, just ’cause they’ve got the job and you don’t? Just because they’re in a position and you’re not, why do you accept that? You accept that because of the rules. You accept that because that’s just the way things always are. Somebody earns more than you, they’ve gotta be smarter. Somebody has a job more powerful than yours, they’ve gotta be smarter, they’ve gotta be better. Don’t think that way. Don’t naturally subordinate yourself to everybody. Just because you’re not in the club that’s making the rules does not mean they know more than you do about how to be best for yourself.
Jobs’ point was so few people actually ever stand up for themselves. It’s considered too risky. It’s safer to conform. It’s safer to go by the rules. It’s just safer to let everything fall out as it’s supposed to and try to make your mark within those confines. But when you do it that way you’re still waiting on somebody above you to anoint you and grant you the permission to climb the next rung on the ladder rather than just doing it on your own and letting the chips fall. I worked for a corporation for five years and found out after year three I’m not made for that, ’cause I’m not a conformist and I don’t have 40 years to wait to climb the ladder to do what the rules of that game say you have to do to become a VP.
And that’s all Trump’s doing here. He’s taking the way he lives his life and always has — and this does not equal support for Trump. I’m explaining it. The way he lives his life, the way he always has, and he’s decided he wants to get into politics, and he’s gonna continue to run by his rules.
He’s not gonna sit there and willingly let people take shots at him just because that’s what you always have to do if you want to be elected president. You’ve gotta go through the media gauntlet. No, he doesn’t, he’s saying.”
What Robbins and Rush are describing is essentially the same thing — the Trump Dynamic. Just as the dictionary says, and refined slightly to acknowledge this is the political system, Trump is “a force who stimulates change or progress within the political system or process.”
The challenge to Fox News — which is universally seen in political circles in the New York-Washington corridor as the “conservative network” — is a case in point. Outside of that New York-Washington corridor there is another view of Fox altogether. Here’s CNN’s Dylan Byers on a subject that I have certainly heard in person myself from conservatives around the country. Writes Byers in this report:
Trump taps the right’s anger against Fox
Des Moines, Iowa (CNN)—For nearly two decades, Republican presidential candidates have run with Fox News. Now, Donald Trump is betting that he can run against it.
Trump’s six-month war with host Megyn Kelly, which turned nuclear when he pledged to skip the Fox News debate that she is co-moderating on Thursday, has exposed a significant shift in the political-media landscape: The growing divide between ultraconservatives and Roger Ailes’ Manhattan-based network.
… In 2016, that conservative base is coming to believe that Fox News is more in line with the increasingly despised Republican establishment than with the ultraconservatives who support insurgent candidates like Trump and Ted Cruz.
“Most of my audience has a bipolar feeling about Fox News,” Steve Deace, the conservative Iowa radio host who is backing Ted Cruz, said during an interview with CNN. “They view it as the most reliable place to go for news coverage, but they have grown increasingly untrusting of it when it comes to analysis.”
For Deace, Trump’s supporters are ultimately “desperate people” who “will latch onto megalomaniacs who claim to have all the answers.” But as a proxy for conservative sentiment in Iowa and beyond, Deace is also well aware of his constituency’s dissatisfaction with the cable news network.
“I saw this beginning in 2008, I saw a lot more of it in 2012, I see even more of it now,” Deace continued. “Their feeling is that most of the Bush establishment people they put on there — from Brit Hume to [Charles] Krauthammer to Karl Rove — have been in the tank all along for anybody other than Trump and Cruz.”
So. What do we have here when you add all of this together?
What you have in this instance is (1) the Trump Dynamic — “a force who stimulates change or progress within the political system or process.” And 2? Number 2 is the immediate target of the Trump Dynamic — Fox News. Seen in Iowa and the rest of America, to the shock of those bound up in the conventional thinking of the New York-Washington political/media axis, as not that conservative after all. Is Sean Hannity a serious conservative? To wax Palinesque — you betcha. Ditto Eric Bolling or Neil Cavuto. But you get much beyond that with a few exceptions and the conservative base of the GOP, in the words of Cruz supporter and Iowa radio icon Steve Deace who would know, and you find that conservatives in Iowa — and surely elsewhere as well — have “a bipolar feeling about Fox News” because it is filled with “the Bush establishment people.”
The point? As the so-called “political insiders” of the political Jurassic Park known as the Establishment are woefully late in beginning to understand — the “Trump Dynamic” is not only in play here in this presidential campaign, it has rapidly spread across a nation that is increasingly adapting to the “disruptive” world of, as Rush Limbaugh and Mel Robbins are pointing out, Steve Jobs’s Apple, Uber, Amazon, Airbnb, and Tinder.
Whatever happens to the Trump campaign, it is very safe to say American politics will never be the same again.
The Trump Dynamic is here to stay.