The New Populists
By. Raimondo Graziano
~ Written before the 2016 Presidential Election
This election has surprised and frightened many political pundits throughout the country. This election both Donald Trump and Senator Bernard Sanders rose to the forefront of American politics. Each has become a force into their own right, whether you agree with their policies or not, a force and face behind what has become a major political, social and cultural movement throughout the country. While Sanders and Trump share radically different approaches to governance, and the treatment of people in general, both tap into an anger and dissatisfaction with Washington D.C. and the ‘political elites.’
The idea that the establishment is inherently against the people has been reinforced and perpetuated over the past year by both candidates. Now as Trump and Clinton battle for the Presidency, Trump speaks of the election being ‘rigged.’ A very dangerous and inflammatory claim that is increasingly being spread and believed as fact by members of both parties. Disillusioned by what they see as the ineffectiveness of Washington. These ideas and thoughts have not simply sprung up randomly, or coincidentally. The rise of populist parties today can be attributed to the financial crisis of 2007 and the subsequent fallout from failing banks, global conflicts, congressional gridlock in the case of the United States and a loss of trust in our international institutions. In Europe, far right nationalist parties are rising, fighting against austerity and immigration; immigration being fueled by the refugee crisis in the Middle East – due in part to the United States and its allies inaction against the Syrian Regime, and refusal to more actively engage ISIS in the region due to ‘American War weariness’ and a general trend towards a more isolationist foreign policy. Though, we need only look at history to see what the prospect of isolation can do this country and to the world. United States engagement globally is critical.
Based on public opinion polls over the last thirty years, we can see that a trend exists between the rise of what can be described as ‘populist movements’ and the faltering of our banking systems. The research finds that political moderates decline significantly after banking and currency crises. They find that in the wake of these events governments must often rely on weak coalition governments or even fractured legislatures, and this often leads to opposition movements which tend to grow larger and louder as the public sentiments boil and simmer. In a piece written for The American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics entitled “Resolving Debt Overhang: Political Constraints in the Aftermath of Financial Crises,” the author, Sufi, explains that every debt contract has both a creditor and a borrower. In a lending crisis, one of the two must take what can be described as a loss. We can see that both the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall St. Movement are children of the crisis. Just as Senator Sanders and Donald Trump’s political movements are as well. They all echo a similar discontent with the current global order, and we, the people, are left to wait and see what the eventual culmination of all this heated rhetoric may be.