New Zealanders shouldn't struggle to understand the phenomenon that is Donald Trump - our own outsiders have spanked the establishment. Think Winston Peters. Think Sir Bob Jones. Put those two together and imagine the result. That's Trump.

Jones is a successful and flamboyant businessman. He entered the 1984 election with his freshly hatched New Zealand Party to win 12 per cent of the vote.

He came from nowhere, won no seats, defeated National and propelled Labour into office, which proceeded to implement his New Zealand Party's free-market policies.

Jones was crass and brash, upset the establishment and broke a reporter's nose. People were aghast, particularly the reporter.


He exited politics as abruptly as he entered.

Peters has fashioned a lifelong career on the fear of foreigners taking over. The more he is attacked, the more he appears the martyr and the more the establishment looks to be trying to hide that it has let us down and sold us out. His rhetoric is neither coherent nor consistent but he weaves a compelling spell.

It's Trump's populist incoherent and contradictory babble that so enrages and exasperates the political experts. But the more they attack, mock and disparage Trump, the more his political power grows. That's how it works for Peters.

The only tactic that depletes Peters is to ignore him or, even better, to have him win power. On gaining office, the lion becomes the lamb and he quickly tires of the responsibility.

All other politicians grow on assuming office. Peters deflates.

There are differences. Jones ran as a spoiler and influencer. He would have been horrified to have won high office. Trump expects to win.

Peters' life is politics. It's all he knows and all he does. That's not Trump. He's just a year younger than Peters but is only starting out. Peters is in his fourth decade.

But we have seen the property tycoon upset the political order. We have watched aghast as political claptrap has wooed the crowd.

The Trump phenomenon is not unfamiliar. I am enjoying his rise - not that I like Trump but I love the gnashing of teeth he causes. He is not the political experts' choice for President.

They think him unfit. But they forget it's democracy. It's the people who choose political leaders and, quite often, the people want to give the establishment a good kicking.

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