In 2016, when it seemed almost impossible for Donald Trump to win the presidential election, political analysts were warning of his potential victory due to a surge in right-wing voters and high evangelical turnout. Despite this unexpected victory, many experts predicted that he wouldn’t be able to replicate those numbers in 2020 due to shifting demographics. However, what these analysts failed to understand is the populist wave present within America; citizens are fed up with their government as wages have remained stagnant while taxes for wealthy individuals have decreased significantly over time. This populist sentiment has been influencing the electorate since the financial crisis of 2008 and has largely gone unnoticed by both mainstream media as well as politicians.
At the same time, racism is still prevalent today and largely driven by white men who feel threatened by minorities gaining power; the Republican Party has embraced racism through its Southern Strategy which seeks out votes from former Dixiecrats after the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. This strategy works because it plays on the fear of change and taps into people’s frustrations with government inaction on issues such as immigration reform or gun control. It should come as no surprise then that Donald Trump has found success with such tactics; his rhetoric towards immigrants and minorities resonates with certain segments of society that feel like they’ve been left behind.
In order for Democrats to be successful in future elections, they need to recognize that populism isn’t going away anytime soon and address the needs of citizens who feel like they’ve been forgotten about. People are fed up with high inequality where only a small percentage of Americans benefit from economic growth–rising healthcare costs, an aging infrastructure, skyrocketing college tuition fees–all these problems need solutions if we want our economy to thrive again. Furthermore, Democrats need to make sure racism doesn’t become normalized; they must offer constructive alternatives rather than relying on fear-based policies implemented by Republicans in recent years.
Ultimately, this election cycle should be a reminder that we can’t take anything for granted and must pay more attention to understanding public opinion if we want our democracy to function efficiently again. Politicians from both sides must listen to voters more closely instead of lecturing them about what is best for them; until then we will continue seeing more unexpected results arise at each election cycle as we saw in 2016 when Donald Trump won despite all odds being against him. The establishment needs to reevaluate how it views populism or risk repeating past mistakes if they hope for a favorable outcome next year during US Presidential Election 2020!