The American people are angry.
And this time it is not cyclical anger — after all, we are sitting at the top of the current business cycle.
This anger is a secular trend. There is anger at the lack of jobs, there is anger over class warfare. There is anger at police profiling of young black men, anger at conservatives, anger at political correctness, anger at liberals, anger at the breakdown of our inner-city infrastructures and the poisoning of water in Flint, Michigan, and elsewhere, anger at Hillary Clinton, anger at Donald Trump, anger at the mainstream media, anger at liberal and conservative media, and, most of all, anger at a promised way of life that seems to be slipping away.
The anger is the culmination of several economic and demographic trends that have been gaining traction but are now becoming apparent to the majority of the population.
The American people are finally aware that they will no longer have job security or employer-based health care. The traditional workweek has given way to the “gig economy.” No matter how much educational debt one accumulates in an effort to escape this new normal, most people will still be subjected to this uncertainty over career, income and upward mobility.
To people who worked hard and played by what they thought were the rules, this is unacceptable. Someone is to blame, and someone has to pay.
Enter the political establishment. As Mitt Romney alluded to in his failed attempt to repudiate Mr. Trump, the political elite has always employed tried-and-true methods of channeling popular discontent, either through engaging in a war against some foreign threat or fomenting anger against groups within America. Both parties have been guilty of this — whether the target is blacks, whites, Mexicans, workers or capitalists. The political parties have been able to exploit this anger and use it to their benefit.
But they have never encountered a person like Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump has issued a clarion call to discontented Americans, and they have responded en masse. His message has been blunt, crass and, at times, vulgar. And yet people like the way he is expressing their own anger.
This has rankled the establishment because they see it as a major challenge to their own interests. Because Mr. Trump is not beholden to the status quo, he would be unpredictable once in office. He may make decisions that go against entrenched interests.
The Republican establishment has desperately attempted to control and curtail the Trump movement. The latest threat — holding a brokered convention in which establishment leaders would determine the nominee — could very easily backfire. Even those who do not necessarily support Donald Trump are angered by the prospect of the GOP establishment interfering with the will of the people.
Those who oppose Mr. Trump should do so within the democratic means we have at our disposal. Mr. Trump has thus far run quite an unorthodox campaign and may have broken the unspoken rules of political discourse. But the fact is, he has played well within the official rules of the political game. He may have exploited the rules in his favor, but he has not broken them. Let’s not go breaking rules in an effort to stop one candidate from gaining the nomination. That leads down a dangerous road and could set a terrible precedent.
There is no question that Mrs. Clinton is the complete opposite of Mr. Trump. If the American people decide in the end that they would rather choose an establishment candidate, they have ample opportunity do so without interference with the political elites. I suspect, however, that the world has changed since she made her calculation about what playing an inside game would earn her in terms of power and influence. With Mr. Trump, we don’t know exactly what we are getting. But one thing is for sure: It won’t be what we’ve gotten thus far.
• Read Armstrong Williams, author “Reawakening Virtues,” visit RightSideWire.com and join the discussion live at 6-8 p.m. and 4-6 a.m. EDT on Sirius/XM UrbanView 126. Become a fan on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.