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The Trump dragon has been unleashed now that the ‘shackles’ are off

Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee

Donald Trump just went full on "us vs. them" at big campaign rallies in Florida and Ohio this week, after it became clear that attempts to marry him to the Republican party were failing.

But Trump's version of "us vs. them" isn't Republican vs. Democrat. It's not conservative vs. liberal. It's not union vs. right-to-work. Trump is simply capturing the attention of millions of Americans who have felt left out of the party for so many years. That's "us."

The "them" is the establishment. And the establishment is the mainstream news media, the high elected officials in the Democratic and Republican parties, the "1 percent," the highly educated, and the well-connected. With almost 100 percent uniformity, they have opposed Trump's candidacy, warned of the most dire consequences if he wins, and used shaming tactics against his supporters or would-be supporters at every turn.


"Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt — now, when I say 'corrupt,' I'm talking about totally corrupt — political establishment, with a new government controlled by you, the American people. There is nothing the political establishment will not do — no lie that they won't tell, to hold their prestige and power at your expense. And that's what's been happening." -Donald Trump

And that 100-percent uniformity was confirmed recently when top leaders of the GOP establishment finally abandoned Trump in response to the 11-year-old "Access Hollywood" tape that just so happened to be leaked ahead of a massive Wikileaks dump filled with embarrassing facts about Hillary Clinton. Trump's crude description of women and his exploits with them was the final domino to fall, losing him whatever small support he may have had among the established powers in this country.

Fast forward to six days after the "Access Hollywood" leak. During that time, the bad publicity from the tape was augmented by just-emerging allegations of actual sexual assault by Trump. The establishment powers, using the news media which they have always controlled, declared the election to be over. In that context, Trump appeared before tens of thousands of people in West Palm Beach, Florida. After strongly denying all the allegations, Trump told the crowd about his new definition of the election fight was a complete revolt against that same establishment. In fact, he called out "the establishment" by name 13 separate times in the speech, finally taking his fight beyond just the Democrats and Hillary Clinton.

The key quote came here:

"Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt — now, when I say 'corrupt,' I'm talking about totally corrupt — political establishment, with a new government controlled by you, the American people. There is nothing the political establishment will not do — no lie that they won't tell, to hold their prestige and power at your expense. And that's what's been happening."

It has been a weird dance in the past few months as Trump toggled between his outsider-staging-a-revolution persona and cozying up to the establishment trying to be "normal." You felt conflicted watching it – could he just pick a team already? Paul Ryan probably did Trump the biggest favor by taking off the "shackles" and letting Trump be Trump.

You remember what happened when Khaleesi unleashed her dragons on "Game of Thrones," right? It was like that.

The "us" is a wide-ranging group that crosses age, geographic, and other lines that no Republican or Democrat has ever been very successful at bridging.

The "us" are millions of military veterans, from the Vietnam era all the way to the Afghan and Iraq wars. The men and women who were never quite appreciated very much during their service – or afterward.

The "us" are the millions of Americans who actually don't want to go to a four-year liberal arts college and don't think going to one or graduating from one makes a person better, more useful, or even necessarily smarter. They know that college grads are more likely to make more money after they graduate than they do, but they also know they're very likely to be straddled with massive student debt.

The "us" are the millions of Americans who once could rely on good manufacturing jobs and then decent service jobs and have seen them both disappear thanks to outsourcing and lower wages. Yes, this group blames illegal immigration and bad trade deals for their fate. They did that well before Trump camp on the scene. It's only shocking no national politician ever made it such a major issue in an election before now. Well, maybe there is something to that "all-controlling establishment" conspiracy theory after all.

The "us" are millions of Americans who are still classically religious, the ones who know that being religious doesn't mean you expect perfection from anyone else. In fact, they know it means to expect their peers to be quite imperfect. The establishment has always scoffed at such true believers.

The "us" are millions of Americans who were brought up to believe that if you didn't treat everyone the same way, you were racist but are now horrified to find that you will be considered a racist in America today unless you treat different people very differently and support those who do.

The "us" are millions of older Americans who want to know the whereabouts of the Democratic Party that used to talk mostly about Social Security and Medicare, but now has morphed into a some kind of socialist/cultural revolution movement that rails about income inequality and the right to taxpayer funded sex change operations. They're also wondering why their children and grandchildren who have gone to college are unable to move out on their own and don't even seem to be emotionally or financially able to get married and start their own lives.

The "us" is a big chunk of Americans. It's big enough to swing an election, especially in battleground states like Ohio, Michigan, Florida, New Hampshire, and Colorado. The problem is that no candidate from either party has been able to get their attention or allegiance. The Republican presidential candidates of recent years, especially people like Mitt Romney, didn't even sound like or try to speak to this large group. And the Republican leaders in Congress, drunk with the power of controlling Capitol Hill for most of the last 22 years, have become more and more detached from the "us" in America and it shows in their utter inability to understand Trump's appeal.

Democrats have mostly ignored this group in favor of cultural elites and generally richer donors. The nature of campaign financing has played a big role, but so has the declining power labor unions wield in America. For all their promises to defend and even expand unions in America, Democrats have been complicit in allowing the companies and industries that relied on union labor to go offshore.

Trump now has just 25 days to convince enough of the "us" in America that he's their man. The fact that so much of the establishment is lined up against him will actually help in that effort, if he's smart enough to pivot from defending himself from every new allegation and keep the focus on those general "powers that be" like he did in his West Palm Beach rally Thursday. But even if Trump fails, the amazing thing is that so much of the establishment's arsenal was needed to defeat an unpolished and very flawed candidate like him. With the groundwork Trump has laid, if he doesn't defeat these great powers this time around, surely another outsider candidate will in the next election.

Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.