The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election has been unlike any that has occurred within the last 50 years and, in some ways, ever. It is the first in which both of major political parties, the Republicans “Grand Old Party” (GOP) and the Democrats, ran preliminary candidates with little or no history with or loyalty for the party in which they ran. Bernie Sanders, an Independent (not a member of a political party) and Donald Trump, one who has switched party affiliations throughout his adult life; including in the little known Reform Party, have both gained support from the U.S. populist attitudes, within each party, that have been impacting politics throughout the world.
There are a number of reasons for this world-wide populist trend but many, if not most reasons, are directly related to the recent world-wide “Great Recession” and the slow economic recovery in which the gap between the “have’s” (those with exceptional social, political, and economic resources) and the “have not’s” (those without much, if any, social, political, and economic resources) has continued to increase and done so with an increasing rate of disparity.
Donald Trump gained enough votes, during the various Republican Party state primaries, to gain the GOP endorsement, to run as that party’s candidate for President of the United States, at the Republican National Convention (Cleveland, OH July 18-21). Donald Trump received more delegate votes (1,427) than Ted Cruz (549), Marco Rubio (168), or John Kasich (159).
Hillary Clinton did likewise, as the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States, at the Democratic National Convention (Philadelphia, PA July 25-28). She received more delegate votes (2,775) than the progressive, “populist candidate”, Bernie Sanders (1,889). Hillary Clinton represents the traditional, non-populist politics that has been the norm, as well as, the beneficiary of the Democratic Party’s blatant expression of political elitism (the reliance on winning elections via the politically and economically influential and powerful).
Donald Trump represents an increasingly conservative shift, within the Republican Party, which began around 30 years ago and has become the basis of a populist movement which can be broadly characterized as anti-immigrant, anti-free trade, and anti-establishment.
The means by which Donald Trump has stated he would respond to (“fix”) these issues would tend to require the expansion of the power of the U.S. Executive Branch (the Presidency), assumes the U.S. Legislative Branch (the U.S. Congress, consisting of the House of Representatives and Senate) supports his policies or are by-passed altogether, and that many of his more controversial policies and procedures would not be subject to review by the U.S. Judicial Branch (the Supreme Court).
There are two additional characteristics that tend to define Donald Trump’s candidacy: the use of social media to 1) convey his narcissistic personality and 2) spread conspiracy theories and misinformation. For these reasons, Donald Trump’s candidacy can be characterized as expressing significant neo-fascist rhetoric.
The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election is not yet concluded (as of 02.12.16) in that the total electoral count, voting by the “Electoral College”, hasn’t yet taken place though it appears Donald Trump will win with 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232 out of 270 required despite Hillary Clinton receiving over 2,012,000 more in the popular vote.
[Update (3/15/2018): The electoral vote results were: Trump 304, Clinton 227]
Because the Trump presidency rose from a conservative populism, accompanied by neo-fascist rhetoric, and a refusal to follow the conventional wisdom inherent in successful political campaigning, there is a legitimate concern that the U.S. could enter a period of social, political, and economic transformation, of the worst kind, that could have ramifications long into the future of the country.