Over the last year, on my radio show and social media, I have been vilified for both predicting a big win for Trump, and calling the polls fundamentally flawed.
Many Never Trump elites insulted me, telling me I couldn’t be right because I didn’t go to the right journalism school (which is irrelevant since I’m not and have never claimed to be a journalist), didn’t wait in the media industry line, didn’t write a blog or kiss their asses at conferences. I’ve never had a podcast, then a live stream, ultimately begging for a radio show.
Those who know me know that I’m ambitious like that and decided instead just to succeed without all of the preceding irrelevancies.
Unlike certain pundits and hosts, I’ve never bragged about my analytic proficiency even though I was correct throughout the primaries, into the general, up to and including Election Day. And it is not that I am particularly gifted. Not by a long shot.
The reality is that like Donald Trump, I did something the political class and their consultant class guardians have never done. I listened to the American people.
Now, I know you’re reading this thinking “c’mon Cardillo, that’s simplistic and cavalier.” But it isn’t. It actually is that simple. The recipe for success was always hiding in very plain sight, but the political and media elites never dared lower themselves to see it.
To understand why, you must understand them. They are all pretty much the same people. They live in the same places, those places being New York City, Washington D.C., and to a smaller extent Los Angeles. They socialize in the same groups, attend the same parties, and desire to be liked and accepted by the same powers that be.
I know this because I used to be one of them. I was in that bubble. Back in the mid-2000s I founded and ran a very successful company that soon became a political player in my home state of Florida and nationally. I was one of those loathed donor class guys who wrote the big checks, held the fundraisers, and had access. Politicians loved seeing me, for no other reason than I gave them the maximum allowable campaign contributions.
This is all called “The Process,” and it’s a bubble into which you’re not allowed unless you’re elected, work for the elected person, on air, in print, or can afford to buy in. Now those of us inside The Process always have an agenda. Mine was furthering my company’s mission, and today it is to use my media presence to influence policy and elections.
I entered that rarified little world not by going to the right school, winning an election, or working on a campaign, but by way of being a street cop who made some money and entered out of necessity. And once I was inside, I realized there were in fact two Americas.
Those inside The Process and those on the outside.
I quickly learned that those inside The Process have contempt for those outsiders. Even worse, the lines between Republican and Democrat are so blurred as to be indistinguishable. I cannot even recall how many Rs and Ds called me soliciting campaign checks for someone from the opposing party because they needed their cooperation on some initiative somewhere.
Their consultants and campaign services vendors are typically their former staffers, and everything exists in a perfect predetermined little world where the line of succession is silent but clear, and everyone knows to whom the money is supposed to go. And once it gets there, those recipients understand to which campaigns they must donate to keep this circle of life infinite.
And for the most part their media partners gladly play along because they need access to remain relevant.
Then along came Donald Trump with this idea so foreign, so ridiculous, and so horrifying to those inside The Process that they couldn’t even take him seriously. He actually listened to the American people, and based his policies on what they wanted, not what The Process demanded.
They couldn’t believe that someone would be so naïve and audacious as to think the elites who controlled The Process actually cared about what the American people wanted. And they believed in their hearts that the American people would trust whatever The Process elites told them.
Until Trump ruined Jeb Bush’s coronation.
The elites were terrified, and demanded Trump run a more traditional and polite campaign which is Process speak for “tone it down, play the game, and lose like we do.” But Trump said “no thanks,” and doubled down on the unthinkable. Actually doing what the American people were asking.
And so it went for the last six months. Those inside The Process did all they could to destroy Trump, but the American voter simply wasn’t having it. They finally had someone speaking for them, and decades of frustration came pouring out in record breaking support for Donald Trump, and a general election victory that saw political and media elites inside The Process visibly shaken.
They will analyze this election for years trying to figure out how they were so wrong. Many will use convoluted models detailing fractional shifts in voter sentiment based on race, gender, age, and region. Basically, they will do all they can to prove to themselves that they and their paradigm are not irrelevant. But they are. It is a new dawn.
And the path to victory was always in front of them. All they had to do was listen to, and not have contempt for, the American people.