Welcome to the Year of the Outsider. It just claimed its first victim. If I were Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, I’d be demanding loyalty oaths from the members of my caucus.
As if we needed to be reminded, the outsider dynamic is the strongest force in American politics today. Why? Americans look around and see that everything is broken. They think our politics are corrupt, the nation’s foreign policy is inept, the treasury is going bankrupt, and we are defenseless against uncontrolled immigration. They want to return to normal and see no obvious path there — except to completely upend the political system.
This frustration and hopelessness vaulted Donald Trump to the top of the polls, against the predictions of everyone. Yes, he’s unorthodox and unpredictable and sometimes unstable, but voters are willing to overlook his shortcomings because in him they see a human depth charge that will explode Washington into finally paying attention. When Americans in record numbers tuned into the first two Republican debates, they realized Trump wasn’t the only outsider in the race, and now Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are sharing the center ring.
This is why pundits and pollsters who try to anticipate where this race is going don’t know what they’re talking about. All the conventional wisdom has turned out to be wrong. We’re like Magellan in uncharted waters.