Op-Ed: To truly understand Trump, this book is a must read. Hint: It's not 'The Art of the Deal'

President Donald Trump smiles while being introduced during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017.
Win McNamee | Pool via Bloomberg | Getty Images
President Donald Trump smiles while being introduced during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017.

What if I told you there's a book that provides the perfect road map to predict and understand all things President Trump? And what if I told you the name of that book is not "The Art of the Deal"?

Before I get into that, I should backtrack a bit to note that while it's been more than a month since the inauguration and almost four months since election night, I'm still enormously grateful for being fortunate enough to have predicted Donald Trump's surprise victory last spring and sticking with that prediction and my explanations for it right up until Nov. 8.

Now, I'm even more grateful because I finally realize I probably made that accurate call all along because I had read a book almost five years earlier that explained just about all the reasons why a candidate like Trump could win. And the book is even more valuable now because it's a reliable tool for predicting and explaining the new administration's policy moves since the inauguration.

But I'm kicking myself for not realizing earlier that Scott Rasmussen's 2012 book, "The People's Money," was that blueprint I'd had in my possession for all that time. In fact, I had it months before it was even published when the author himself handed me the pre-published galleys during a private meeting we had at one of my former employers. Here's how that happened:

Yes, Rasmussen is the guy who created the Rasmussen Reports polling company. He actually left the company in 2013, but his years of polling and direct interaction with American voters make him an incredible source of common sense knowledge about what the people really want. That knowledge made him such a great guest to book on the news programs I was producing at the time because he went beyond the headline numbers of any given poll and put them in a wiser context. And so, I booked him often and he was kind enough to come meet me and some of my colleagues in late 2011 to discuss his upcoming book.

I immediately read it and was gratified to see that like I'd always believed, the book explains that the real divide in America is not right/left, Republican/Democrat or even rich/poor. "The People's Money" makes the case that the real divide in America is between the political class and the rest of us who are not politicians, government workers or lobbyists. And then the book goes on to explain how strikingly the people's desires and common sense diverges from the agenda and beliefs of the political class.

That's where all the clues for what would become the Trump movement are found. The more you read Rasmussen's book and all its accompanying data, the more you see that the voters have increasingly wanted a blunt instrument to smash the political class for a long time. Anyone familiar enough with the book's points would have to be blind to miss that then-candidate Donald Trump was such an extreme outsider, from his resume to his very personality, that he was indeed the only real candidate for that smashing job.

Speaking of "smashing," a key member of the Trump team was undoubtedly aware of and had a strong connection to the book. White House Senior Advisor Steve Bannon's Breitbart website frequently quoted "The People's Money" in 2012 and 2013, and gave it a special focus. It thus makes sense that Bannon was thinking about the real voters' long-held desires when he made his now infamous 2013 statement about how he wants to "destroy all of today's establishment."

But again, the value of Rasmussen's book goes way beyond understanding the last election. The first chapter alone looks like it's an advance study sheet for President Trump's budget agenda that he will lay out Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress. "The People's Money" argues strongly that the political class operates under and promotes the false notion that the American people don't really want budget cuts or changes to entitlements. While it's true that most Americans will say they don't want cuts to our defense or health care subsidies, it's only true that they respond that way when asked about spending on them in the most general terms.

In other words, Americans will say they don't want to cut back on "defense" but will support slashing individual parts of the defense budget, especially the massive cost of deploying troops overseas. Americans will also say they don't want to "cut" Social Security. But polls that ask more specific questions about raising the age requirements for Social Security benefits or making other important changes show strong voter support for those ideas. The reality is the American people are in favor of budget surgery as opposed to burning the entire house down. But the political class and its allies in the media seem to always make budget cut discussions an "all or nothing" affair.

The Trump team seems to know this, especially now that the White House is looking to make major budget cuts by surgically eliminating programs within the federal agencies. The Heritage Foundation, which has earmarked dozens of such programs, is reportedly working with the Trump administration to put that "cut list" into action. Look for the political class to fight back after these cuts are proposed by glossing over the names of the specific programs and making it supposedly about the Trump administration looking to "destroy" health care, protections for battered women, early childhood education, motherhood and apple pie. This is a classic political class M.O. outlined well in the book.

There's more, but I don't want to spoil the rest of the book's wisdom for those who have not read it. It's not about converting people to President Trump's side as much as it explains the reasons why he won the election and why his policy proposals may have a lot more popular support than the political class and its compliant mainstream media will lead us to believe. Readers of this book will have a tremendous advantage over those who continue to read nonsense about how the new president's agenda is being set by classic conservatism Republicanism, racism or Russian agents.

Like it or not, while President Trump and his team may often look like they're operating haphazardly, there's a method to the madness that anyone can start to understand and anticipate once they read and remember "The People's Money."

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