Typically, populist politicians, almost by definition, pander to their base … Unfortunately, there often has to be a villain – someone to demonise. Jackson had the national bank and Native Americans. Today, we have illegal immigrants. And this presents a huge problem.
Matt Lewis, The Telegraph, July 11, 2015

s the primaries for the 2016 US presidential election draw near, we are seeing is a rebirth of the populist uprising that began almost 100 years ago, with the qualified John Quincy Adams and the famous Andrew Jackson. Then, as now, populists want a famous action man who can fight, “regardless of whether or not he or she has a coherent or consistent conservative record or philosophy.” While there are several candidates reminiscent of Andrew Jackson’s appeal, Donald Trump is the one causing the most trouble right now, specifically to the Republican Party. Despite comments that many view as racist, insensitive, etc. Trump is connecting with a good chunk of Americans who feel disconnected and disenfranchised with the US political system, and moreover, “politicians” as a class. While most conservatives who desperately want to win the Republican nomination have to worry about alienating Hispanic voters, populists have incentive to do just the opposite in order to drum up controversy, anxiety, and support.

For example, Mr. Trump’s famous quote: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists…” While this is not the first time Jacksonian populism has affected US politics, the problem today is a different one: trust in institutions, like political parties or TV stations, has eroded to an all-time low, empowering people who stand in contrast to the establishment. Add to that the absence of a controlling legal or moral authority to tell candidates to get in line. The Republican party has a big problem: the populist wave has swept its ranks, and what we are witnessing with Donald Trump “isn’t just populism, it’s populism on crack”.

Get in deeper:

Donald Trump: Four Reasons He’s Leading in Polls || WSJ

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Trump is a byproduct of all the toxic elements Republicans have thrown into their brew over the last decade or so — from birtherism to race-based hatred of immigrants, from nihilists who shut down government to elected officials who shout “You lie!” at their commander in chief.Timothy Egan, The New York Times, July 24, 2015
There is nothing secret about the nativist views of Donald Trump, a dyspeptic business tycoon running for the Republican presidential nomination. His finger-jabbing speeches about Mexican rapists and murderers, flowing across the border ‘like water’, and American jobs being shipped to China have taken him to the top of most polls.Editorial, The Economist, July 15, 2015
While it’s easy to mock Donald Trump over his brash attitude, insensitive comments and unfortunate comb-over, his candidacy is not to be taken lightly … Racism is still alive and well in America, and a candidate with a bigoted message will attract a lot of support.C. Robert Gibson, Al Jazeera, July 22, 2015
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