When rapper Kanye West visited the Oval Office last week, every news outlet covered it, and every new outlet commented on what a pointless circus it was. They’re basically correct—Kanye’s stream of consciousness rambles and exuberant exclamations mostly do not shed light on the policy or politics of our day.

But one moment did plant itself in my brain, and when MSNBC’s Craig Melvin asked me about Kanye’s visit, this was the part I said was most interesting.

Like Melvin, I didn’t notice the importance at first. My wife did. She watched clips afterwards that were tweeted out, and this particular one, she watched fully expecting inanity.

But there’s a deeper insight there, whether conscious or unconscious. Here’s the relevant transcript:

"This hat gives me a different power in a way. You know my dad and my mom separated, so I didn’t have a lot of male energy in my home. And also I’m married to a family that, you know, not a lot of male energy going on. It’s beautiful though. You know it’s something about, you know I love Hillary, I love everyone. Right. But the campaign, ‘I’m with Her’ just didn’t make me feel, as a guy, that didn’t get to see my dad all the time. Like a guy that could play catch with his son. It was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman. You made a Superman. That’s my favorite superhero and made a Superman cape for me."

Kanye wasn’t the first Trump supporter to associate Trump with a sense of “male empowerment,” as Bassett was suggesting with her tweet. Typically, given that men still dominate power structures in our world, this male empowerment comes across as something a bit barbaric or menacing.

But zoom in a little closer. Kanye refers to the lack of “male energy in my home” as a kid. His parents split up when he was three. Yes, he spent summers with Dad, but day to day, Kanye was raised by Mom.

This dynamic, being raised by a single mom, enhanced Kanye's interest in Trump, the rapper said.

This is where it gets interesting. In what ways is Trump a father figure?

[Also read: MSNBC anchor: Kanye West's Oval Office rant an 'assault on our White House']

Trump as a father figure first came to my attention in a Kevin Williamson diatribe against Trump supporters titled “Father Fuhrer.” Trump supporters, Williamson wrote, “may be struggling to make it in the global economy, but what they really are shut out of is the traditional family.”

Williamson then riffs:

"It is easy to imagine a generation of young men being raised without fathers and looking out the window like a kid in an after-school special, waiting for Daddy to come home. Many of them slip into harmless Clark Griswold–ism, trying to provide for their own children the ideal families they themselves never had. But some of them end up grown men still staring out that window, waiting for the father-führer figure they have spent their lives imagining, the protector and vindicator who will protect them, provide for them, and set things in order."

The truth in Williamson’s critique here is that, of course, seeking a head of government as a father figure is unconservative, and lends itself to the fascistic. The president can’t set things in order in a family or community that is broken.

Notably, the breakdown of the family is not universal or evenly spread. It’s less present in robust religious communities, such as the Mormons. It’s also less of a problem in elite circles—the college educated, higher income Americans who live in nice neighborhoods with good public schools are more likely to get married, then have kids, then stay married, and actively raise their kids.

Trump’s early appeal—if you look at the early primaries—was to the (white) Americans outside of these two circles. Utah was fairly unfriendly to him. He did very poorly in Western Michigan, where the family-and-community-focused Dutch Reformed Church is robust.

Trump’s strongest places in the early primaries—the places where Trump was not merely preferred, but where where he stood out as something different from other politicians, such as a superhero—were places with more broken communities and more broken families. It was Appalachia. It was the places where local communities—the infrastructure that props up family—has crumbled the most.

My book "Alienated America," due out in February, argues that alienation gave us Trump. Fatherlessness is central.

Trump’s role as a substitute father-figure is an underappreciated explanation of what gave us Trump. That’s too bad, because it explains both the maladies of Trump’s earliest base, and it explains a lot about Trump’s governance.