Reason doesn’t seem to have had a significant influence in the 2016 election thus far. Populism, on the other hand, has been having a good run. Despite Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders appealing to very different groups and offering seemingly different platforms, they’re both populists. Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, has noticed a striking similarity between the populist playbook Trump and Sanders use and the rhetoric that Alexander Hamilton spoke out against in the 1780s.
To be sure, populism is often fueled by legitimate dissatisfaction with the status quo. Americans have good reason to be furious with their political and economic leaders, especially those who rarely venture outside the New York-Washington DC axis. When Sanders shouts that the economic system is rigged and Trump thunders against an out-of-touch political class, they have — as no less than Charles Koch (who’s very critical of both men’s economic policies) has affirmed — a point.