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Populism After Trump

While more than 72 million Americans cast their votes for Donald Trump, over five million more chose Joe Biden – a 3.4 percentage-point difference. The implication is clear: right-wing populism is not dead, but it can be defeated.

LONDON – Before he was US president, Donald Trump built a reality-television persona on the catchphrase, “You’re fired.” Now, the American people have fired him. And Trump’s defeat has also dealt a devastating blow to nationalist populists in Europe and elsewhere. Might it prove lethal?

The swamps that breed populist nationalism have not been drained. Too many people remain frustrated over their perceived (or anticipated) loss of economic and social status, and feel disregarded or maligned by establishment politicians. Wage stagnation, deindustrialization, and economic injustice continue to be serious challenges. Many are convinced that immigration and cultural change pose a threat to their safety and way of life. The COVID-19 crisis has compounded these anxieties.

The persistence of these fears and frustrations was reflected in the US election results. Though President-elect Joe Biden won over five million more votes than Trump – a 3.4 percentage-point lead – more than 72 million Americans still cast their votes for the outgoing president.

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