There is a popular theory that opposition to Donald Trump among left-leaning “elites” is less about his policies or his abilities or his actual decision-making in office and is really a matter of taste and style. In this view, he is resented because he is too crude, lowbrow, and downmarket for the pretentious hipsters and the Georgetown cocktail party set. The frenzy over Oprah kind of puts this theory to rest. She is the female, left-of-center equivalent of Trump—yet they all gush over her, urge her to run, and embrace her as their president.

I’m afraid the truth is much simpler. It’s not about policy, it’s not about experience, it’s not about competence, it’s not even about taste and manners and personality. A lot of our politics is just about who can make people feel good about themselves by echoing their emotions and convincingly repeating back to them the catchphrases currently popular among members of their political tribe.

When you think about it, maybe that makes snake oil salesmen the ideal political figureheads for our era.