The progressive intelligentsia worry Trump will prove them irrelevant — again

The progressive intelligentsia worry Trump will prove them irrelevant — again
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Anyone who watches CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperNY Times slammed for glowing Farrakhan op-ed: 'You would think he was a gentleman' Democrats condemn Trump's rhetoric against Michigan governor as allies defend rally Illinois governor blames Trump's allies for state's wrong direction on coronavirus MORE on a regular basis can surmise that not only is he not a fan of President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE, but he is a “progressive” sympathizer in cable news anchor clothing.

Back in the day, when I was director of communications for former Sen. Bob Dole, I interacted with Tapper fairly regularly. I found him then to be professional, intelligent, politically astute and generally fair. Those qualities were on display during CNN’s 2016 election night coverage, when the network and all those opposed to the election of Donald Trump realized the tables were horrifyingly turning in his favor.

Said Tapper, in part, as that light bulb went off:  “We should take a moment and look at this.  Pollsters predicted Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Ballot initiatives in Colorado, Louisiana could restrict abortion access Trump mocks Joe Biden's drive-in rallies at North Carolina event MORE was going to have not just a victory, but that she was going to have an electoral landslide. Not only is that not happening, it is entirely possible that Donald Trump is redrawing the map. … In a word, it was Donald Trump versus all the experts and, as of right now, it looks as if Donald Trump was right.”


Tapper then cut to the chase on why Trump was proving the mainstream media, the liberal intelligentsia, the Hollywood celebrities, and the Never-Trumpers — all of whom continually mocked and smeared Trump, and declared he would never win — so very wrong.  

“We have talked about this for the whole year,” Tapper said. “Donald Trump having one core-message, which is, ‘Washington, D.C., is not working for you. It’s a cesspool. It’s not protecting your jobs, it’s not protecting you from terrorists. It’s not protecting you when it comes to illegal immigration. It’s not keeping the borders safe.’ Now, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff which has been wrapped around that core-message, but apparently to millions and millions of Americans, that message was more important than all the other stuff wrapped around it.”

Obviously, Tapper was correct in his assessment that night. But why were his network, the pollsters, the Never-Trumpers, and the liberal intelligentsia so embarrassingly wrong?

Part of the answer, as Tapper and other liberal pundits reluctantly acknowledged, was that the “experts” completely missed the ignored and unacknowledged wave of Trump voters across the nation. Did they miss these voters because their analytic software was off-base, or because they deliberately wanted to suppress their existence?

Several months after Trump was sworn in as president, someone asked me why I believed the reaction to Trump’s victory continued to be “so visceral, angry, hate-filled and long-lasting?” My answer was what I believe to be the simple truth: “Trump exposed many of them as being irrelevant to their audience and the American people.”


Worse than being proven wrong about Trump, those who so vigorously opposed him likely were mortified about being exposed as “experts” who were out of touch and, therefore, increasingly irrelevant to their readers, viewers, listeners, students, movie fans or, worst of all, their bosses. 

To Jake Tapper’s point, Trump was wildly successful at “redrawing the map” in 2016 and these “expert” pundits, reporters, professors, celebrities and Never-Trumpers fell flat on their faces with their gleeful predictions of his doom.

What if Trump proves them wrong again? What if, in the face of a pandemic, protests, looting, violence and calls to defund the police — or more likely, because of these actions — the president wins reelection in November and puts the exclamation point on these experts being demonstrably irrelevant? 

Even if his vehement opponents go all-in to defeat Trump, there is a growing underground message machine that they simply can’t manipulate or stop. It’s reaching millions of Americans via its technological “word of mouth.”

As an example, while writing this piece I got one text and two emails. One pointed out a perceived flaw in Joe BidenJoe BidenObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Brad Pitt narrates Biden ad airing during World Series MORE, and two highlighted positive messages from the first night of the Republican National Convention.

Millions of Americans who strongly believe the liberal intelligentsia and entrenched establishment no longer hears their voices, or cares about their plight, are plugged into the word-of-mouth message machine. Every day, these aggrieved Americans add a few more names to their message-machine list.

And this may ultimately expand and redefine the definition of “irrelevant.”

Douglas MacKinnon was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communication at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration. He is the author of: “The Dawn of a Nazi Moon: Book One.”