The polls and the pundits agree that Donald Trump is likely to lose the 2016 election. But like the mirror image of the Trump movement, the Bernie Sanders revolution, the populist uprising is likely to continue so long as people feel economic anxiety. The solution to both Trump and Sanders, according to a new piece in the Washington Free Beacon, is economic growth.
The article has some history to back the premise up. The rise of the new right in the 1970s coincided with stagflation and oil shocks but then faded away with the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s and the return of economic growth. Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan, two populist leaders, had their day in the early 1990s when the economy slowed again. But Bill Clinton, with the help of Newt Gingrich, restored economic growth and both men became irrelevant.
Now the economy has slowed again, starting in the second Bush administration and continuing throughout the Obama presidency. #Donald Trump on the right and #Bernie Sanders on the left have arisen to offer easy solutions and inveigh against the corruption of the political class, illegal immigrants, and bad trade deals. The answer to both Trump and Sanders, according to the piece, is more economic growth.
If the economy is growing lustily, jobs start to proliferate, people are making money, business booms, and people stop feeling as anxious. They are less likely to turn to men (or women for that matter) on white horses. The populist fever breaks, at least until the next economic slowdown.
That suggests that economic policies that encourage growth, such as low taxes, light regulations, and cuts in government spending, the same ones pursued by Reagan in the 1980s and Gingrich-Clinton in the late 1990s, are the best way to stop populists such as Trump and Sanders. The trick is to elect a government that will institute these policies and not pursue ideological crusades that will make things worse. Barack Obama, in a strange, ironic way, is the father of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders with his madcap, government-centric policies that have smothered economic growth like a wet blanket. Will his successor change things? One does not have much hope. #Election 2016