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pioned ‘the people’ from the early 1800s while in the early 1900s Wil- liam Jennings Bryan carried the pop- ulist banner into repeated defeats. The Republicans came later to the populist calling as they moved from being the party of ‘the state’ to being proponents of the ‘small state’ through the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, but they too sought to be both inside and outside the proverbial ‘beltway’. Thus, from both the left and the right, the perceived ‘elites’ of the day have come in for harsh criticism, making the cornerstone of populism - a sense of anti-elitism - fair game for both sides of the aisle. Worryingly, this anti-elite edifice


is now being built on what William Greider of The Nation has called a “hollowed out” version of democ- racy which, he argues, has reduced Americans “…to the passive role of spectators, fans, groupies. Or they are persuaded not to bother with poli-


tics.” He suggests that this fuels voter anger as people believe “not only that government failed to ensure economic prosperity and security but also that both political parties denied or


ignored what average


working stiffs knew and were trying to tell the politicians. Many believe they were betrayed, that the politi- cians lied.” Regardless of the outcome


between Sanders and Hillary Clin- ton (while arguably happy at not being considered populist she is also attempting an ‘outsider’ message by virtue of her gender) there is a wider issue to consider. Given that millenni- als are now a quarter of the US popu- lation, perhaps ‘populism’ is not the point.


Older generations hear Trump’s message of betrayal and disillu- sion through their experience of the financial meltdown and their own insecurity. ‘Youth’ are drawn to Sand-


ers because they hear complex poli- cies (overly-) simply stated and don’t understand ‘socialist’ the way their parents and grandparents did. They ‘get’ Twitter and see cyber ‘wars’ as just part of the conversation rather than a low form of gutter fighting. In a disconnected digital world, each image,


story and policy stands in


grand isolation, insulated from every other thought. As these millennials take the elec-


toral reins, the fact they see the world of politics as ‘hits’ on single issues is crucial and Trump and Sanders have been groomed to ensure they fill each niche as ‘men of the people’. Populism may be what the older


generation would call these self- styled inside-outsiders, but perhaps we should not try to shoehorn the shape of the new political discourse into that old box. Maybe there just is no name for whatever this is – at least not yet.


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