Consider the average American in "flyover country."
In the 21st century, the American people’s trust in government plummeted as they—on the political Left as well as on the Right—realized that those in power care little for them. As they watched corporate and non-profit officials trade places with public officials and politicians while getting much richer, they felt impoverished and disempowered. Since the ruling class embraced Republicans and Democrats, elections seemed irrelevant. The presidential elections of 2008 and 2012 underlined that whoever won, the same people would be in charge and that the parceling out of wealth and power among stakeholders would continue.
Americans on the Right were especially aggrieved because the oligarchy had become culturally united in disdain for Western civilization in general and for themselves in particular. The cultural warfare it waged on the rest of America inflamed opposition. But it also diluted its own focus on solidifying profitable arrangements.
By 2016, America was already well into the classic cycles of revolution. The atrophy of institutions, the waning of republican habits, and the increasing, reciprocal disrespect between classes that have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another, than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners precluded returning to traditional republican life. The election would determine whether the oligarchy could consolidate itself. More important, it would affect the speed by which the revolutionary vortex would carry the country, and the amount of violence this would involve.
Particular individuals had never been the oligarchy’s worry. In 2008, as Barack Obama was running against Hillary Clinton and John McCain—far cries from Trump—he pointed to those Americans who “cling to God and guns” as the problem’s root. Clinton’s 2016 remark that Trump’s supporters were “a basket of deplorables,”—racists, sexists, homophobes, etc.—merely voiced what had long been the oligarchy’s consensus judgment of most Americans. For them, pushing these Americans as far away as possible from the levers of power, treating them as less than citizens, had already come to define justice and right.