Breaking News #4: From Ross Perot to RFK Jr – The Evolving Narratives of Political Entrepreneurs

Breaking News is free for everyone to access. You can grab the mp3 file below, or you can subscribe at:

Join Ben Hunt, Matt Zeigler and Jack Forehand as we break open the news to reveal the nudging language behind the headlines. Media bias is real, but not in the way you think.

In this episode, we take a deep dive into the tactics and tools used by upstart political entrepreneurs. Our political system is setup to heavily favor incumbents and candidates that are part of the political establishment. This presents an exceptionally difficult challenge for candidates who come from outside of that system. But social media and technology have given upstart candidates more tools at their disposal than they have ever had in history. And they are using them to both gain our votes and influence our opinions. We discuss how they do that and how all of us can maintain clear eyes and full hearts in the midst of their influence.

To learn more about Epsilon Theory and be notified when we release new content sign up here. You’ll receive an email every week and your information will never be shared with anyone else.


  1. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    Such a great episode! Loved the “Better vs. Different” concept, it perfectly articulated something I’ve seen play out many times. And @MZeigler3’s ability to so succinctly summarize the episodes on the fly(!!) is stunning.

  2. Avatar for robh robh says:

    @bhunt could you elaborate on the point you made in the podcasts that centrists can’t win a presidential election anymore. I understand that they can’t win a nomination as a centrist but why not the general?

  3. My wife and I listened to the podcast as we’re driving cross country on a road trip (next up-MOGCOM!). The better vs. different message struck home with me, and she was most taken by the examples which showed the bimodal nature required to get ahead in our current widening gyre ie. extreme positions needed to get the nomination and then the move to the center……except for tRump, who saw things differently and succeeded by doubling down with his base.
    Keep them coming. Am particularly interested in how some people I know like RFK Jr, whereas my prior appreciation of his environmental efforts have soured with his more recent foray into the medical field. .

  4. I found myself looking forward to the episode’s release early in the week and am enjoying the regularity of a nice dose of ET in this format, kudos to you guys.

    I could express many mirror engagements but those are not very fun.

    The paradox I wrote about in an earlier comment continues to be on my mind. I think the word ‘entrepreneur’ has a largely positive connotation in our world. It must be possible to be a ‘political entrepreneur’ and not have that be implicitly a bad thing…? Yet (at least on this side of my instance of the living metaverse) the ET discussion of political entrepreneurs seems explicitly negative, as if it is only possible to do so by deceiving people. I can understand such a frame given the current state of affairs, where the widening gyre won’t permit anything positive to emerge from such processes. But it must be possible, otherwise there is no hope, at least on this side of a turning. How would we recognize a ‘good’ political entrepreneur? Or in the present turning is it hopeless and thus not worthwhile to be looking?

    Somewhat relatedly, I commented on prior article about the ‘well-spoken’ point. But I thought it was slightly strawmanned in this episode. I thought the discussion was mostly centered on the idea that people are deceived by PEs by virtue of them being well-spoken. While obviously this can be true, for me the point on being well-spoken is that it is a meta-signal in the absence of any other signal. And currently there is an utter absence; everything from the mouths of politicians and institutions is noise. So being well-spoken, regardless of the intent, becomes all the signal there is.

  5. this idea, of interests that stack vs. compete - very interesting @RobMann

  6. and like Rory Sutherland would say, “A weed is just a flower with a marketing budget.”

    Perception sure does make this all even more interesting. Making some notes for some good/bad PE questions (and perhaps) examples. Great job framing this @rechraum

  7. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    As the two ‘humps’ in the bimodal distribution of red and blue tribe election preferences get taller and farther apart, the middle of the combined distribution loses its peak and actually becomes a trough. Depending on party discipline, a ‘more centrist’ blue candidate can win a general election from a ‘less centrist’ red candidate (or vice versa), but the entire impetus of ‘moving to the center’ (because that’s where the votes are!) is lost as the bimodality gets more pronounced.

  8. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Fair point! But a signal of what other than ‘not a mainstream politician’?

  9. Avatar for robh robh says:

    I get it— A “centrist” R and a “centrist” D don’t resemble each other anymore so there is no point in appealing to a group that no longer exists.

  10. That’s depressing. Not saying it’s wrong, just……depressing if true. It removes an element of hope

  11. Man did that ever crack me up! Upon second glance I gotta ask if maybe you meant “a flower is just a weed with a marketing budget?”
    What am I missing?

  12. I have a question about the bimodal distribution. As of the last survey I saw the two parties are split about 25% each with the remaining 49% identifying as ‘independent’. If that is accurate—and I have no reason to believe it isn’t to at least some degree—that should leave an opening for a more center left/right candidate to capture a general election audience. But the problem then is winning a primary, correct? That’s the impossibility caused by the growing spike of the two humps?

  13. Ha - you caught it (I totally bungled that one), great work!

  14. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Yes, that’s it exactly. The amorphous blob in the center is ‘unaffiliated’ so it’s like they don’t exist in a system like the US that prevents a third party from forming.

  15. I thought this was an interesting read:
    August 26, 1996 Democratic Party Platform:

    Today I believe many of these positions would be considered extreme by the very same party.

    A couple of examples:

    Today’s Democratic Party also believes we must remain a nation of laws. We cannot tolerate illegal immigration and we must stop it. For years before Bill Clinton became President, Washington talked tough but failed to act. In 1992, our borders might as well not have existed. The border was under-patrolled, and what patrols there were, were under-equipped. Drugs flowed freely. Illegal immigration was rampant. Criminal immigrants, deported after committing crimes in America, returned the very next day to commit crimes again.

    President Clinton is making our border a place where the law is respected and drugs and illegal immigrants are turned away. We have increased the Border Patrol by over 40 percent; in El Paso, our Border Patrol agents are so close together they can see each other. Last year alone, the Clinton Administration removed thousands of illegal workers from jobs across the country. Just since January of 1995, we have arrested more than 1,700 criminal aliens and prosecuted them on federal felony charges because they returned to America after having been deported.


    Welfare reform. Today’s Democratic Party knows there is no greater gap between mainstream American values and modern American government than our failed welfare system. When Bill Clinton became President, the welfare system undermined the very values – work, family, and personal responsibility – that it should promote. The welfare system should reflect those values: we want to help people who want to help themselves and their children.


    Reinventing government. The American people have a right to demand that responsibility is the order of the day in Washington. The mission of today’s Democratic Party is to expand opportunity, not bureaucracy. We have worked hard over the last four years to rein in big government, slash burdensome regulations, eliminate wasteful programs, and shift problem-solving out of Washington and back to people and communities who understand their situations best.


    Fighting crime. Today’s Democratic Party believes the first responsibility of government is law and order. Four years ago, crime in America seemed intractable. The violent crime rate and the murder rate had climbed for seven straight years. Drugs seemed to flow freely across our borders and into our neighborhoods. Convicted felons could walk into any gun shop and buy a handgun. Military-style assault weapons were sold freely. Our people didn’t feel safe in their homes, walking their streets, or even sending their children to school. Under the thumb of special interests like the gun lobby, Republicans talked tough about crime but did nothing to fight it.

    Bill Clinton promised to turn things around, and that is exactly what he did. After a long hard fight, President Clinton beat back fierce Republican opposition, led by Senator Dole and Speaker Gingrich, to answer the call of America’s police officers and pass the toughest Crime Bill in history. The Democratic Party under President Clinton is putting more police on the streets and tougher penalties on the books; we are taking guns off the streets and working to steer young people away from crime and gangs and drugs in the first place. And it is making a difference. In city after city and town after town, crime rates are finally coming down.

    In the interest of fairness:

  16. Good grief man, and to think those were from relatively recent times.
    I threw up in my mouth after reading each party’s platform.
    ‘Nuff said

Continue the discussion at the Epsilon Theory Forum


Avatar for RobMann Avatar for Tanya Avatar for robh Avatar for rechraum Avatar for Desperate_Yuppie Avatar for bhunt Avatar for harperhunt Avatar for MZeigler3 Avatar for lpusateri

The Latest From Epsilon Theory


This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the market with certainty or guarantee future investment performance. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Statements in this communication are forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements and other views expressed herein are as of the date of this publication. Actual future results or occurrences may differ significantly from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements, and there is no guarantee that any predictions will come to pass. The views expressed herein are subject to change at any time, due to numerous market and other factors. Epsilon Theory disclaims any obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements or views expressed herein. This information is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of any offer to buy any securities. This commentary has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. Epsilon Theory recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.