And so ends the great populist uprising of our time, fizzling out pathetically in the mud and the bigotry stirred up by a third-rate would-be caudillo named Donald J Trump. So closes an era of populist outrage that began back in 2008, when the Davos dream of a world run by benevolent bankers first started to crack. The unrest has taken many forms in these eight years – from idealistic to cynical, from Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party – but they all failed to change much of anything.It seemed for a time that at least the Bernie campaign might generate some momentum toward eventually wresting the Democratic party away from the banksters and oligarchs. Tom Frank isn't optimistic about that now.
And now the last, ugliest, most fraudulent manifestation is failing so spectacularly that it may discredit populism itself for years to come.
My friends and I like to wonder about who will be the “next Bernie Sanders”, but what I am suggesting here is that whoever emerges to lead the populist left will simply be depicted as the next Trump. The billionaire’s scowling country-club face will become the image of populist reform, whether genuine populists had anything to do with him or not. This is the real potential disaster of 2016: That legitimate economic discontent is going to be dismissed as bigotry and xenophobia for years to come.Yeah. Probably.