Whither Populism?

While we wait for one of the Matthews to analyze and cheer the Sanders win in Michigan, let's think about both victories there last night: Trump and Sanders. Each in his own way has a populist appeal. John Cassidy at the New Yorker captures the difference: "it seems that Sanders’s economic populism and Trump’s authoritarian populism both resonated in a state that was hard hit by the Great Recession and its aftermath."

"Economic" and "authoritarian"; that sounds about right. That both candidates criticize the trade agreements of the last three decades and the appeal that makes to many Michigan voters raises the question of what either one of them could do about the agreements if they were elected. Laws, agreements, trade patterns, and economic interests: Would they be a formidable barrier to bringing manufacturing jobs back to Michigan or any other state?

Sanders's brief comments last night, as his campaign waited to see where the vote was going, where duly modest in contrast to Trump's bloviating. More than one news person referred to Trump's speech touting his water, his wine, his meat(?), and his university as QVC TV. Pretty Disgusting. Did CNN let Trump run on because they thought it would punch down his numbers, or because they were afraid to cut him off? 

P.S. Would Jean Highes Raber please report in on the vote in her Michigan environs?  She has; scroll down comments for her direct from Michigan account.

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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