Give Donald Trump credit for this.
Give Donald Trump credit for this: he figured it out. He figured out how to connect with a significant several million Americans by recognizing a grievance that had taken hold among many of them. This was the suspicion that they'd been played by a club of insiders -- Wall Streeters, media types, liberal academia, career politicians, think tankers and the leadership of both major political parties. And that these insiders were responsible for pushing into reality a set of policies -- with their trade deals, embrace of immigration, overseas adventurers and embrace of bailouts for the too big to fail -- that never seemed to hurt the club members themselves. Only the little guys, Joe and Josephine Citizen, who keep paying their taxes, keeping their noses clean, and getting screwed.
Now, to be sure, other explanations have been given for Trump's success, from his dog-whistle rhetoric to his ability to shimmy unscathed around political inconveniences like getting caught in lies, or getting asked for tax returns that he refuses to share.
But nothing has worked for him as much as his insistence in front of his audiences that an American "elite" is out to cheat them (and stop him), in an America where the game is "rigged."
And what if he's right? Does that make Trump, ultimately, the ultimate truth teller -- however challenged he may be in the qualified-to-be-president department?
And what if he's wrong? What if he's fabricating (and his are followers imagining) a crime against Americans that is more imagined than real?
This Tuesday, we at Intelligence Squared U.S. are going to ask those questions, and test the idea at the heart of Trump's appeal to those many millions. We will be debating this motion:
Blame the Elites for the Trump Phenomenon
It's not a simple issue, nor even a simple proposition, as our panelists will likely argue over who is an elite and who isn't, and even take on the question of whether the "Trump phenomenon" is all good or all bad. But we think that's going to make for an even more interesting argument.
And that's what we promise: an argument, aka, a real debate. We think voters are owed that, now more than ever, as November 8 approaches. I hope you'll join us.