The rise of Donald Trump is directly attributable to “protected” Americans dismissing the needs of “unprotected” ones, author Peggy Noonan told a capacity crowd at the 7th Annual Inside Retirement conference.

Noonan, who was a speechwriter for President Reagan, defined the protected class as not only wealthy Americans, but also financially successful people in the media and other careers.  They have some money, they live in nice neighborhoods and “they can pretty much do anything. They are insulated,” Noonan told about 500 attendees at the conference in Dallas, which was sponsored by Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines.

“The protected make public policy, and the unprotected live in it,” she said.

Unprotected Americans, those with less money, less access to good schools and less opportunity than elites, don’t think Democrats will protect them, and they don’t think that Republicans will help them, Noonan added.

Trump will be the GOP nominee because he’s been able to tap into that feeling of alienation that so many Americans are feeling, she said.

Noonan noted she lost that feeling of amazement about Trump’s ascendancy many months ago when she was shocked to learn that some of her family members are supporters of Trump, who is actually quite liberal.

“He’s brash, he’s fascinating and makes me want to sit and listen,” says Noonan. “I don’t know what he’s going to say next, and I don’t think he knows what he’s going to say next.” What disturbs her most about Trump is his “emotional responsiveness that speaks to a certain immaturity.”

The immigration issue, which has roiled the United States for the last 20 years, has been the one to catapult Trump to the forefront, she says. “It’s a real, concrete, symbolic issue, and it is the one that made Donald Trump.”

What truly marks this political moment though, she said, is the rise of unprotected Americans.

Protected Americans don’t seem to care about the unprotected, she said. In good economies, those at the top “attend to the needs of normal people and are respectful of them.”