The Rise of the Rest Just Happened
One of the more entertaining tech industry spats over the last few months was sparked from the differing visions Peter Thiel and Steve Case. At the Republican Convention, Thiel talked about how top talent tends to move to either the East Coast or the West Coast. By contrast, Steve Case has championed the idea that it is the spaces in between that matter most. This argument served as the motivation and inspiration for his many recent cross-country road tours.
Yesterday, it was Peter Thiel’s chosen candidate — Donald Trump — who shocked the world by overcoming all odds and winning the 2016 presidential election. But ironically, it is the Steve Case vision of the importance fly-over-state America that explains a lot of how the November 8 contest ended the way it did. With the right candidate and the right message, it turns out that this often-forgotten middle does matter — tremendously so.
True the Rise of the Rest argument mainly focuses on the development of larger fly-over cities (as opposed to the rural areas in Middle America). But note that Trump did much better than expected in many of these mid-west metropolitan areas that the Clinton camp incorrectly assumed would go overwhelmingly blue.
John Battelle points out another aspect on this Rise of the Rest theme. In his words, it is the other people that he, his many friends and his network (including myself) know nothing about who pushed Trump past 270: “How is it that every group I’m engaged with, from the boards I sit on to the conferences I attend, to the friends I eat dinner with, to the band I play with, to the companies I lead and invest in, to the schools and the universities my kids attend, to the pundits I follow…how is it that no one I’ve engaged with in an honest intellectual conversation over the past few months, NO ONE, thought it was possible that this could happen?”
Bottom line. Our new president may not understand the first thing about policy. But, he apparently knows people — particularly the ones outside of New York, Boston, San Francisco Los Angeles and other large coastal cities. These are the people who so many politicians, tech leaders and media figures inconveniently ignored. Like it or not, we will learn a lot more about them over the next four years.