Able to self-fund his own campaign, Donald Trump has disrupted the plans of the Republican establishment and conservative super pacts that spent millions of dollars with the hope to see a Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or Chris Christie as their party's nominee.
Similarly, the Democrat Party establishment would have preferred to have seen a quick selection of Hillary Clinton as the standard-bearer to carry on the accomplishments of the Obama administration. Instead, the very unconventional independent socialist Bernie Sanders joined the Democratic Party and Clinton has had to spend her energy and funds to secure a nomination that she felt entitled to.
Trump, Sanders, and Cruz have upset the political apple carts. These three non-traditional politicians have prevented their party's establishment from the coronation of their hand- picked candidates.
Because these men have broken all the understood rules for being traditional candidates, with some elitist snobbery, pundits have summarily addressed them as being populist politicians.
For elitists, populist candidates are those who have traditionally appealed to the less educated and less affluent members of society and are not politically correct. Not viewed as moderates let alone not being team players.
In some dictionaries, a populist is synonymous with demagogue.
Historically, some of the most famous American politicians and personalities who have been termed as populists are:
- Andrew Jackson
- George Wallace
- William Jennings Bryan
- Huey Long
- Pat Buchanan
- Father Charles Coughlin
- Glenn Beck
And though Trump, Cruz, and Sanders proudly announce that they are anti-establishment they are in good company with Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan who also made identical claims they were also anti-establishment.
Good Reads About The Politics of Populism
The NewYorker writer George Packer, in his written piece The Populists describes the populist tendencies of Sanders and Trump.
Newsweek's writer, Chris Lehman authored a great article entitled,
Donald Trump and the Long Tradition of American Populism.
OSU Department of History blog, Origins writer Marc Horger's article entitled American Populism and the Persistence of the Paranoid Style (if you enjoy history a good short read.)
Populist candidates do not have good reputations