Everywhere you look - from political campaigns, both Democratic and Republican, that are focused on the haves and have-nots, to much of the Internet - people are upset. They are angry that they are being bullied by folks who have more power - and sometimes lots more money — than they have.
You feel a tension in America now between “us” and “them.” This is not about the usual suspects of polarization - conservatives and liberals. It is “us” and those myriad groups that the public feels have disempowered them. Because bullying isn’t just an issue for children any more. It is an issue - perhaps the issue - for everyone.
Trump is a beneficiary of something ubiquitous in America today: The United States is a winner and loser society.
That is how most Americans think of it. We have long been told that anyone in this country who wants to succeed, can. Casting aside the increasing impediments to social mobility, such as high college tuition costs and the loss of high-paid, blue-collar jobs, the onus is entirely on the individual. Surveys show that Americans strongly believe it. In fact, among industrialized nations, Americans are the only people who believe that they have the power to determine their own destiny.
Yet, however much Americans espouse it, that belief is shakier than we let on. Many Americans increasingly feel, deep down, that the game is rigged. That the people who run this country - the economic, political and intellectual elites - get all the advantages. Average Joe can’t win.
We know people feel this way because they say so. It is what unites Tea Party activists and Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters, reactionaries and radicals. Both sides rail at the abuse of power and the power of abuse. They may not agree on much, but they see themselves as victims of the same force: bullies.